In the time of COVID-19, no scheduling occurs without caveats to consult and confirm with health officials. Cases of coronavirus could surge further, and breakouts and hot spots remain possible even as vaccines begin to make their way into circulation. And despite ubiquitous uncertainty, as well owners advocating for a delay, it appears the 2021 season will start on time, per The Athletic’s Evan Drellich. MLB and the MLBPA have each announced their intentions to stick to the CBA and have regularly scheduled starts for spring training and Opening Day.
The presumption has been that any potential delay would come from the urging of the league office, but Drellich provides this statement from MLB:
“We have announced the dates for the start of Spring Training and the Championship Season. As we get closer we will, in consultation with public health authorities, our medical experts, and the Players Association, determine whether any modifications should be considered in light of the current surge in COVID-19 cases and the challenges we faced in 2020 completing a 60-game season in a sport that plays every day.”
Owners would prefer to delay the start of the season in order to get more people vaccinated and generally provide a safer playing environment. But they also want to limit the number of games played without fans in attendance. With the CBA in place, however, MLB has little recourse but to start the season on time. Considering the success of the NFL and NBA to operate under the present circumstances, it would likely take a significant, state-levied change in circumstances to seriously derail the season.
This is good news for the players, who have continually advocated for a full 162-game season. None of this is to say the season’s schedule is set in stone, of course, but it does seem likelier than ever that there will be a full season in 2021.