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MLB Roundup 1/4: 2021 season expected to begin on time

We’ll see how long that holds up.

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Atlanta Braves v Minnesota Twins Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

For now, 2021 season expected to begin on time

Although there is now a COVID vaccine in circulation in the United States (the speed of that circulation is, well, less than ideal, but it’s there), we are in the midst of the worst COVID stretch we’ve seen as a nation. Clearly, there are real world effects of that most, if not all, of us have felt. There are also much less important baseball consequences as well, which is our focus despite the lessened importance. Specifically, it is still a question as to when the season is actually going to start. Because COVID is still running rampant through the country and because the vaccine rollout has been so shoddy, it seems almost impossible that fans will be allowed at all, if even most, parks to start this coming season in any capacity. That, in turn, has cast doubt as to whether or not the season will start on time.

To that end, The Athletic released a report on Sunday indicating that, as of now, things are indeed expected to begin on time with teams scheduled to start reporting to camp in the middle of February.

As Evan Drellich points out in the report, owners would certainly rather delay the 2021 season to wait until more fans can be allowed to attend, but things are more complicated than that. There is a collective bargaining agreement in place, meaning MLB cannot just make unilateral decisions. It is pointed out that the only way they could really have the authority to make this decision strictly from the commissioner’s office would be if governments started putting restrictions on whether or not they could play, something that is nearly impossible to see happening, particularly in spring training sites in Florida and Arizona. That the pandemic is still happening is not enough to stop play since other leagues are playing and, more importantly, they already set a precedent of playing through it last summer.

Despite all of that, we’ll still take a wait and see approach here, because things simply are never as easy as they seem when it comes to owners and players at this point. The report is thorough and breaks things down well, and as it stands it is true that legally there is just not a path for things to get delayed without the league giving something substantial up in negotiations or things change for the worse to an extent that there is really no choice but to make alterations, which is not impossible. So, for now we’ll proceed assuming things are going to happen as scheduled. But we’ll file this under “I’ll believe it when I see it.”