Football season is over! While most red-blooded Americans are standing around in a crazed stupor wondering how and why they’ll have to wait until this fall for the next season to begin, the rest of us are left yearning for America’s true sport — baseball. The MLB recently announced the season schedule. Much to everyone’s surprise, it marked the fourth season in a row where all 30 clubs will play on Opening Day (which has been scheduled on April 1st in a perhaps tactically erroneous move).
April 1st might mark the first time all Major play their first game on the same day since the 1968 season.
Nowhere are fans more excited than in NYC. Spring training for the Mets and Yankees will begin on March 1st at 1:05 PM, providing them with a full month to gear up for the season.
The major TV networks are gearing up as well. ESPN is preparing to offer coverage on Opening Day, noting that George Springer will be watched by fans as he plays his first game as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays (which will be battling the New York Yankees. Fox will chime in on April 3rd to mark another occasion: The Philadelphia Phillies will be hosting the Atlanta Braves. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the schedule for season-long updates.
Curious about new safety protocols implemented in the wake of the somewhat awkward 2020 season? Vaccine distribution won’t be in full swing until later this summer, so we can expect fan activity at stadiums to be diminished from the norm.
Games will feature a bit of oversight from the COVID-19 Health and Safety Committee made up of at least one MLB operative, one MLBPA operative, and two physicians. They will ensure that health and safety protocols are implemented uniformly and that no local, state, or federal COVID-19 regulations are broken during the season.
Each of the MLB’s Clubs shall also present a written COVID-19 plan before consulting with government authorities and staff on site. This plan must then be approved by the aforementioned committee. The Clubs must also appoint two separate positions for the duration of the season: one Infection Control Prevention Coordinator and one Compliance Officer with relevant seniority. Those who take the positions will ensure that protocols in the Operations Manual are followed to the letter.
Non-compliant teams will be sanctioned.
Players will be required to undergo COVID-19 testing before reporting for training in addition to taking a five-day quarantine at home. They must continue to quarantine until the results of testing are made available. PCR testing will also be required throughout the season, which will be conducted by the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory using saliva collection kits. Players will be tested every other day during training, the season, and the postseason where applicable.
Those who show symptoms or test positive for COVID-19 will be removed from the roster immediately.