MLB and Its Fans Are Back. Just Not Way, Way Back. - The New York Times - #MLB #Fans #York #Times


    Most sobering, clearly, was the postponement of the Nationals’ opener, against the Mets in Washington, after a Nationals player tested positive for the coronavirus. Because several teammates and a staff member were found to have been in close contact with the player, Major League Baseball said the teams would not open on Friday, either. By the end of opening day, the Nationals said they had three confirmed virus cases among players.

    The game was scheduled as the prime-time attraction for ESPN, with a matchup of aces in the Mets’ Jacob deGrom and the Nationals’ Max Scherzer. The fact that M.L.B. postponed it anyway seems ominous; last summer, positive tests tended to trigger complicated schedule shuffling made easier by exclusively regional play and frequent doubleheaders in which games lasted only seven innings.

    In the case of the Mets and the Nationals, divisional foes who meet frequently, rescheduling one game will be relatively easy. The league desperately wants to avoid the kinds of outbreaks that derailed the Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals early last season, and believes it can do so through contact tracing and extreme caution.

    Before spring training, the league had proposed to the union a 154-game schedule (with the full pay of a typical 162-game regular season), with games to begin in early May. That timetable would have given more time for players to be vaccinated, if they wished, but other elements of the proposal made it unworkable for the players, and the schedule proceeded as usual.

    Over all, of course, there is nothing normal about life in a pandemic, and with the Nationals and the Mets unable to play, M.L.B. again missed out on its goal of having all 30 teams start the season on the same day. For one reason or another, that has not happened since 1968, when there were only 20 teams.

    Then again, even without the virus-related postponement, Thursday was bound to be less than complete. The reason was the most mundane, and perhaps the most predictable, of all: bad weather in the Northeast.

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