Disclaimer: Just as I did when writing about this topic on Russell Street Report, I need to state that sports are absolutely secondary/tertiary/etc. in the grand scheme of things, and that’s especially true at the moment. Please don’t berate me with cries of “THAT’S WHAT YOU’RE WORRIED ABOUT?!” I get it. This is a tough time for all of us. But these are sports blogs, so sports blogging I shall do.
As the world waits for announcements on the plans that all sporting leagues have in place, the one that may have the most important decision is baseball. Of course, as the primary sport of the summer, baseball’s season has been jeopardized by the COVID-19 pandemic, at the least halting its start. Moving forward, it’s unclear if the MLB will play the season, though it seems they are likely to do so (thank goodness). With that in mind, there’s a few rumors swirling about how that could go down.
First, there is speculation that the season could get underway in May, with all teams playing games in Arizona. This could be an interesting solution, though it would seem almost identical to Spring Training. Similarly, it appears possible that the MLB could move its league to Japan for the time being, with games going on during the daytime there. Again, this would be a weird situation for fans, but I think we can all agree it’d be worth it if it meant baseball was back.
Either way, the MLB must do what’s best for the players before the sport. Still, when it comes to the future of baseball, I think the pandemic actually presents some intriguing opportunities for Commissioner Manfred.
With the massive issue baseball faces regarding the speed of play and the length of the season, I believe there is an interesting avenue presented by the crisis. Needless to say, there is little possibility for the MLB to play out a full 162-game season, which is unfortunate. At the same time, much of the skepticism surrounding the idea of shortening the season in other years has been brought forth by traditionalists who don’t want to see the game change. This year, with Manfred’s hand being forced, there could be a precedent of a shortened season that might just work well. In that case, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the league move forward with a more spaced-out season that has fewer games. As the past proposal has laid out, this would heighten the importance of each game and might make it more appealing to new audiences who dislike the slog of the summer.
Second, as the league continues to look into gathering a new crop of fans, I think its potential return in any capacity could spark interest in younger audiences.
Let’s break it down…
If you’re a league hoping to attract a different demographic that’s failed to tune in with any consistency, what better way to bring them into the fold than to restart the season before other leagues are up-and-running? Essentially, baseball could become the only sport with a live season, and that could work wonders as far as youth engagement.
The COVID-19 crisis has swept the world and has caused much larger issues than just the sporting world. Still, despite all it’s done to throw off society, it could present baseball with an opportunity to adjust and return to prevalence.
I still firmly believe that this is America’s pastime, but I also believe I’m one of the few members of my age range that holds that stance. Soon, it’s possible that could change.