The inevitable became a reality on Thursday, with Major League Baseball suspending operations for the foreseeable future over concerns about the spread of coronavirus. The rest of spring training is canceled as of Thursday afternoon, and the start of the regular season is suspended by at least two weeks.
“MLB will continue to evaluate ongoing events leading up to the start of the season. Guidance related to daily operations and workouts will be relayed to clubs in the coming days,” MLB said in a statement. “MLB and the Clubs have been preparing a variety of contingency plans regarding the 2020 regular season schedule. MLB will announce the effects on the schedule at an appropriate time and will remain flexible as events warrant, with the hope of resuming normal operations as soon as possible.”
As of now there is no official restart date, but delaying the season two weeks means the earliest date for opening day is April 9. It’s still unknown whether MLB will make up any missed games, or if they would play a reduced schedule.
The last 24 hours have been an avalanche of sports reacting to what is now officially a pandemic. NBA suspended its season on Wednesday, and NHL did the same on Thursday. The NCAA tournament first announced games will be played with no fans then canceled the whole thing (and the College World Series, too), and several conference basketball tournaments were canceled. MLS suspended its season for 30 days, and the PGA Tour will hold events without fans through the end of the week.
Late Wednesday night, California public health officials suggested limiting all gatherings in the state to no more than 250 people through at least the end of March, which would have affected the Dodgers whether or not MLB decided to act as a league.
Both Dodgers split-squad games on Thursday were already canceled by rain, two of six Cactus League games canceled by rain. But this decision by MLB canceled the one remaining game on the schedule, on what is the final day of baseball for a while.
The Dodgers issued this statement:
Statement from the Dodgers. pic.twitter.com/lLEWgVuv0V— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) March 12, 2020
“Players are of course disappointed they won’t be able to compete on the field. At the same time, they recognize the importance of public health and safety,” MLBPA head Tony Clark said in a statement.
A message from Dave Roberts. pic.twitter.com/sMLIxlZocO— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) March 12, 2020
Dave Roberts on MLB’s decision to suspend spring training and delay the start of the season: “I think it’s responsible.”— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) March 12, 2020
Dave Roberts said players will be allowed to continue training at Camelback Ranch. They also can go home if they choose.— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) March 12, 2020
— Alex Wood (@Awood45) March 12, 2020
For anyone questioning MLB's potentially suspending spring training, I'll refer to David Price as he walked into the Dodgers' facility about an hour ago: "It's gotta happen. This is so much bigger than sports. I've got two kids."— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 12, 2020
That feeling is shared by many, many in the game.
Jason Heyward: “I’m more worried about going and saying hello to my parents. They’re 62, 63 years old. I got teammates with kids. Relatives. I’m just more worried about that – the safety of everyone else that may not be able to fight it off.”— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) March 12, 2020
Giancarlo Stanton a few minutes ago on the cancellation of ST: "It’s unfortunate but I think it’s the proper measure we need to take now given the situation the country’s in and the world’s in. It’s important to know that some things are bigger than baseball, bigger than sports."— Erik Boland (@eboland11) March 12, 2020