Mar 26, 2020 - Sports

Coronavirus cancels baseball's opening day

Photo: Brad Mangin/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Today should have been Opening Day, but like seemingly everything else in the world, those plans have been scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: Football and basketball might be more popular sports, but the baseball season is perhaps the most engrained in American life, with the 162-game campaign providing a certain rhythm to the spring and summer months.

When Opening Day arrives, it appeals to all of the senses. For me, I remember playing catch with my dad and eating sunflower seeds in little league. I can almost smell the freshly cut grass at the ballpark and hear the organ music blaring.

But this year, instead of home runs and hot dogs, we have closed door meetings and negotiations, as the league tries to chart a path forward through the great unknown. Seven-inning doubleheaders anyone?

Photo: AP

Above: On April 7, 1969, Washington Senators manager Ted Williams (left) joined President Richard Nixon and Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn before POTUS tossed out the first pitch at RFK Stadium in Washington.

Timely quotes:

  • Pete Rose: "I'd walk through hell in a gasoline suit to play baseball."
  • Hall of Famer Roger Hornsby: "People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring."
  • Journalist Mike Barnicle: "That's one of the great gifts of this, the greatest of all games, baseball: it allows you, still, to lose yourself in a dream, to feel and remember a season of life when summer never seemed to die."

To fill the void: MLB is broadcasting 30 classic games across its various platforms today, including digital streaming and social media. Each team is featured in at least one game.

Go deeper: The last baseball players standing during the coronavirus shutdown

Go deeper

The last baseball players standing during the coronavirus shutdown

Players celebrate after a preseason NPB game played behind closed doors last month. Photo: Jiji Press/AFP via Getty Images

With sports shut down almost universally, the two best baseball leagues outside MLB — Japan's NPB and South Korea's KBO — are still soldiering on, with numerous restrictions and safety measures in place, of course.

The state of play: NPB teams are playing preseason games in empty stadiums, and the league just set April 24 as the target date for its regular season to begin (likely without fans). KBO teams are playing intrasquad scrimmages while the league's preseason is suspended, but like MLB, its regular season start date remains a mystery.

Go deeperArrowMar 24, 2020 - Sports

The murky future of in-game video in the MLB

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In the wake of the Astros scandal, Major League Baseball must decide how best to police in-game clubhouse video — and it has until Opening Day to announce any rule changes.

Why it matters: Players have grown accustomed to (legally) using technology during games, with hitters and pitchers often going into the clubhouse between innings to study video of their previous at-bats and make adjustments.

Go deeperArrowMar 6, 2020 - Sports

Baseball's uncertain future

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

MLB has delayed Opening Day until mid-May at the earliest, per recommendations from the Center for Disease Control that gatherings of 50 or more people be canceled or postponed for the next eight weeks.

Why it matters: Of all the major sports leagues, MLB faces arguably the most disastrous outcome from this unprecedented sports outage, and some of its minor league affiliates might not survive the summer.

Go deeperArrowMar 17, 2020 - Sports