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MLB Fans are not anticipating baseball any time soon

Going by the results of the first Fanpulse survey, you might want to boot up those video games. Or what I believe are called “books”...

Cleveland Indians v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Will there be a 2020 MLB season?

  • Yes: 77%
  • No: 23%

Today should have been the Opening Day of the season. But that isn’t happening, with currently no indication of when games might resume. Still, more than three-quarters of those polled think it will happen this year. Me? I’d put the odds of there being games are probably lower than that, because it really depends on how the entire country does. I think the worst is very much yet to come for many places, and I can imagine a scenario where there are still baseball cities in lockdown well into the summer. Add on the month needed to get everyone back up to speed, and there’s a very real chance Mookie Betts might have played his last game as a Dodger in spring training. :)

How many games will be played in the 2020 season?

  • 90 or fewer - 52%
  • 91-120 - 38%
  • 121-150 - 8%
  • 150+ - 1%

Looks like the median - half above, half below - looks to be somewhere round about half a season’s worth of baseball. If that turns out to be the case, I wonder if we might end up seeing an “All-Star Game” as part of pre-season training? Maybe we’ll even have two of them, one each in Florida and Arizona? The players would all be there, so we’d just need to pick a date and a location, in the same way that the Arizona Fall League handled their All-Star Game. But if we are down to fewer than a hundred games, scheduling is going to become considerably more important. Do we still bother with interleague play? If travel is still impacted, we might see things skew more towards playing within the division.

Will fans be allowed in stadiums for any games in 2020?

  • Yes: 75%
  • No: 25%

This is one option, of course: play the games, just don’t let anyone in to watch them. This would be the equivalent of “social distancing” for a sporting event, though there would still likely be several hundred people in relatively close proximity, by the time you includes the teams, coaches, umpires and other personnel who would still be needed. That’s how Taiwan will be starting their season on April 11th, and even once the need for that ends, crowds will be limited to only a couple of hundred. This was be almost, but not quite, unprecedented in the US. The only MLB game previously played under such circumstances was the White Sox-Orioles contest in 2015, done due to the threat of civil unrest.

In which month does regular season MLB return?

  • May - 11%
  • June - 38%
  • July - 35%
  • April 2021 - 16%

The median here appears to be around Independence Day on July 4, which might not be a bad idea, in terms of scheduling the emergence from our lengthy national nightmare. For that to happen though, assuming we are talking about a month’s prep beforehand, that means “spring” training v2.0 would have to begin around the start of June. It’s almost impossible to predict whether that will be possible: two months out is an aeon in the current landscape. Just contrast where we were, say, in late January, two months ago, with where we are now. Who would be willing to say with any certainty where we might be in another eight or nine weeks?

Flexibility is very much going to be key, with planning ahead at this point almost a futile endeavor. I imagine MLB is going to have a number of scenarios in hand, including a likely deadline after which the season would be called off. Personally, I want baseball to return as soon as possible, in some format or other. But I understand perfectly that other things have to take precedence, and until then... Well, I’m sure I can find other things with which to occupy myself gainfully.