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How Should MLB Handle COVID-19?

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St. Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates
Empty’s happening everywhere.

No matter what your opinion of the coronavirus situation is, there’s no denying that it’s affecting ... well, just about everything. With the new MLB season starting in a matter of days, the Seattle Mariners have already announced that they won’t play any home games in March due to Washington governor’s Jay Inslee’s ban of large gatherings, while the San Francisco Giants cancelled a late March exhibition game at Oracle Park due to a similar ban by the city and county. As in other sports, MLB clubhouse interviews have been banned completely. What was only a tiny buzz last week is becoming a major hum now—the very real possibility of teams playing their first games of the season in empty stadiums.

I live in Pittsburgh, where there have been no COVID-19 cases reported as of yet, although the Saint Patrick’s Day parade this Saturday has been canceled. As of this writing, there are fifteen confirmed cases in Pennsylvania, all in the Philadelphia area. The Pirates’ home opener isn’t until April second, but they play the Rays in Tampa and the Cubs in Chicago the last week of March, and both areas have confirmed cases. If you were looking for Ethan Swierczewski’s regular Wednesday piece, he’s a little busy evacuating his university campus.

Would it be easier to just cancel the games outright, maybe play an abbreviated season? It’s one thing to have to cancel a game because of weather, but like it or not, it’s a scenario that may have to be considered depending on what happens in the next few weeks. It’s something to think about.