Imagine Aaron Judge connecting for a home run, and the sound echoes across an empty Yankee Stadium. You can hear the players cheering from the bench but otherwise, not a sound resonates in the stands. The ball hits a seat in the right-field bleachers, careening off the ground. Judge trots around the bases, not a word said and the voice of the broadcasters’ echo because there is no overlapping sound in the stands.
It’s a terrifying idea but one that might happen as the MLB, fearing the spread of COVID-19, suspended spring training for the foreseeable future on Thursday. This was also accompanied by Opening Day being pushed back at least 2 weeks for the MLB season.
The news comes after Rudy Gobert, center for the Utah Jazz and Donovan Mitchell tested positive for COVID-19 before their scheduled game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The NBA suspended their season within hours of the result and now Major League Baseball joins the list of professional sports to delay or suspend their seasons.
It’s a brutal blow for the baseball world since schedules are so vital to starting pitchers. With the schedule being delayed by two weeks, the likely starters for Opening Day for every MLB team will possibly be shut down in some sort because games won’t begin until possibly mid-April.
For anyone working day-to-day jobs in spring training, it’s also quite detrimental as their work ends abruptly. Coronavirus has affected almost every aspect of the sports world, but for some teams, it might be beneficial as the New York Yankees, even before their season has begun, have been attacked by the injury bug. With Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge sidelined, the delay will give some much needed extra time for the power sluggers to rest.
Even more intriguing is how the MLB assesses the situation in the coming weeks. They too might find themselves barring fans from the stadium in order to stop the spread of the virus. They have already barred reporters from being in the locker room, a substantial move in the history of sports reporting, and it is bound to expand if the disease were to spread.
Regardless, Major League Baseball will not start until April and the implications of the delay may extend the postseason or worse, cut the regular season short. Teams are at a standstill and the MLB season is sure to have some drastic changes for the 2020 season.