In an interview with The New York Times in May, Rob Manfred, the M.L.B. commissioner, outlined the challenges of where and how to stage a season.
“One of the things that floated up from one of the experts is, ‘Gee whiz, a way that you can do this is to quarantine players,’” Manfred said, adding later, “And then you’re going to start a four-and-a-half-month season, and your life is going to be hotel to ballpark, back to hotel, room service, not see your family.
“So then we realized, gee, that’s pretty tough. So then we started talking about including families, and you realize as you get into that phase that you get into quarantine numbers that are insane.”
Manfred said M.L.B. considered holding games in three hubs: Arizona for teams in the West divisions, Texas for teams in the Central and Florida for teams in the East.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Updated July 27, 2020
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- So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.
“That makes sense because those states seem to be more receptive to letting us play,” Manfred said.
But as baseball considered that plan, the spread of the virus ebbed in some parts of the country, and businesses began to reopen. Baseball then shifted its focus to playing in stadiums with no fans while following extensive health and safety protocols. To reduce travel, teams would play only within their geographic divisions.
Yet reduced travel is still travel, with all it entails — flights, bus rides, checking in and out of hotels, hauling equipment from clubhouse to clubhouse, and so on — and even as the league prepared to start play, it understood the risk of positive tests. Some of the official safety rules seemed unrealistic and have been routinely broken, such as the ban on high-fiving and spitting, strict social distancing in the dugout and replacing any ball touched by multiple players.
With player availability inevitably in flux because of the virus, teams are carrying 30 active players (instead of the usual 26), with a pool of 30 additional players available at an alternate training site near home ballparks.