Will there be a 2020 MLB season? If so, how and where will it be held?
We still don’t know the answers to those questions, but Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney had some thoughts on the topic Thursday evening during an appearance on Marquee Sports Network’s Cubs 162 program:
“The virus will tell us when the season starts,” Crane Kenney, the Cubs president of business operations, said Thursday night during an episode of “Cubs 162” on Marquee Sports Network.
“It won’t be the commissioner (Rob Manfred). It won’t be the players association. And it certainly won’t be me. The virus is going to tell us when we can play.”
This is a realistic view. While some restrictions in the Illinois stay-at-home order have been eased (some state parks are now open, some non-essential businesses can open for curbside pickup), the general order remains in effect until May 30 and other cities and states have similar restrictions. It’s still possible — proposals are still on the table — for some sort of neutral-site 2020 MLB season in various locations, including Arizona, Florida and Texas.
“Then you come back. OK, what does an operation that relies on mass gatherings look like when you can’t have mass gatherings?
“We are obviously a baseball team. We are a sports network. We are in the hotel and hospitality business. We are a restaurant business. And we’re a public events business. And every one of them has been decimated by this.”
The note about mass gatherings is important. Even if almost everything else opens up within another few weeks, or by early summer, I cannot imagine any mass gathering the size of a baseball crowd will be permitted any time this year. The independent American Association is apparently going to try to play in front of (much smaller than MLB) crowds beginning in July, but I suspect that plan might have to be scrapped. The summer college wood-bat Cape Cod League announced Friday that its season is going to be cancelled.
So here we sit, only a week away from May, with no further knowledge of when baseball will begin than we had on what would have been Opening Day, which is now more than four weeks in the past.
To leave you on an optimistic note, here are the words of Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo:
Rizzo said on a conference call with reporters Friday: “I’m optimistic, as is the commissioner, that we’ll have baseball in 2020. I’m upbeat about that. The most important thing is to do it in the right way and the safest manner we can. But I believe that we will have baseball.’’
I hope he’s right. As always, we await developments.