The City of Toronto has banned mass gatherings through June; the 2020 Phillies season beginning any earlier than that is now unlikely.
Usually around the Fourth of July, the best teams in baseball have 50-plus wins. More than half of the 162-game schedule is played. Players are gearing up for the All-Star weekend.
Now, during this same time in 2020, the Major League Baseball season could just be beginning.
On Tuesday, the City of Toronto, home of the Toronto Blue Jays, announced the cancelation of permitted mass events through June 30, with Toronto Mayor John Tory tweeting, “While the City recognizes the importance of special events and festivals to the livability and vitality of the city, protecting the health and safety of residents is of primary concern.”
The shortest a MLB season has ever been during the current 162-game format was in 1994, whose season ended on August 11, 1994, due to the 1994–95 Major League Baseball strike. Even then, teams played no fewer than 112 games and no more than 117. Now, if the United States were to follow Toronto’s cancelation of mass events through June, hence preventing the 2020 MLB season to begin until then, it would be hard to imagine the league fitting in as many games.
If anything, a shortened 81-game season appears to now be the most likely scenario for MLB. And, if COVID-19 lasts much longer, sports leagues could decide to cancel their seasons altogether, including the NBA and NHL forgoing postseason play.
NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury says that even games being played in empty stadiums is not feasible: “They need personnel in the ballpark just to get the ballpark open,” he says. “These clubhouses are big complexes, multi-room complexes. You’re gonna have an expanded roster of like 30 players, then you’ll have guys on the IL, 10-plus man coaching staffs and video staffs and analytics staffs and athletic training staffs and there’s even the guys in there nightly who do the drug testing.”
Even when MLB and the MLBPA decides it is safe for teams to start gathering again, it is expected that at least a couple weeks is necessary for players to have another “spring training” to get ready for the season.
As much as Phillies fans were looking forward to the new-look team in regular season action, with Zack Wheeler, Didi Gregorius, Joe Girardi, among others, it appears more and more likely that we will now have to wait until at least July, if not longer, instead of the previously scheduled March 26 Opening Day.