Red Sox CEO says MLB hopes to play full schedule, which might include empty ballpark games

Major League Baseball suspended operations on Thursday for at least four weeks in response to the nationwide spread of the novel coronavirus. That suspension will entail missing at least two weeks of the regular season, which was scheduled to begin on March 26. It is, obviously, too soon to know when the season will actually start, but that didn’t stop Boston Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy from outlining MLB’s hopes on Friday.

Kennedy said that even with the delayed start MLB would like to play a full, 162-game schedule, per Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe. The missed games would be tacked on at the end of the year, meaning the regular season would stretch well into October and the postseason into November. Kennedy conceded that playing all 162 games will be difficult to pull off if more time is missed at the onset of the season — a near-certainty given all the variables at play.

One option that MLB is said to be considering, and that might allow for an earlier start to the season than would otherwise be advisable, is to play games either at spring training sites or in empty ballparks, as also reported by Abraham. In that scenario, MLB would avoid the large social gatherings that tend to be bad ideas during pandemic situations, especially when the societal goal is to “flatten the curve” and prevent a systemic failure of the healthcare system.

The catch with any plan is that pitchers will need time to ramp up for a season of any length and start. Pitchers tend to work backward from the Opening Day date, a task that will be difficult given the uncertain nature of the season. Until there’s greater clarity on that — meaning greater clarity on the spread of the virus — it’s going to be difficult for MLB to put its plans into motion.

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