Oriole fans continue to wait and wonder when the season will begin - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Spring Training

Oriole fans continue to wait and wonder when the season will begin

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

Last week’s conference calls with Oriole’ executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias and manager Brandon Hyde were full of generalities and short on specifics. That’s understandable because so little is known about what the 2020 season will look like.

The coronavirus-shortened season won’t be fun, not for players, nor for fans.

Elias wants to play as many games as possible, but with what kind of schedule?

Without delving deeply, fans might suggest that interleague play be done away with in 2020 and concentrate on playing within your division and league, but that’s impossible.

Interleague play is an essential part of the schedule because of having an odd number of teams in each league. With 15 teams in a league, there must be at least one interleague series at all times.

Yes, there may be doubleheaders to make up for lost games, but how many lost off days would players agree to?

Extending the schedule by a week or two could be possible, but postseason play in late October or much into November in New York, Minnesota and St. Louis might not be pleasant.

The chatter that Major League Baseball could move postseason games to domes and warm-weather sites is shortsighted.

How many fans could travel on short notice to Miami or San Diego for a World Series?

ADVERTISEMENT

Sure, it’s a unique time, but fans who’ve lost huge amounts of money and leave time because of the effects of the virus aren’t going to be able to take a week off for a World Series at a neutral site.

Whether it’s a 110, 120 or 130-game schedule, the season is still ruined because the rhythm of it is affected.

Yes, the postseason might still seem compelling, and the players and owners might have some ideas to get people excited, but the regular season will seem unnatural whenever it starts.

In a conference call with Toronto reporters on Sunday, Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro suggested that a four-week spring training might be necessary. That means if the virus’ effects abate by mid-May, play wouldn’t resume until mid-June.

Would teams then return to Florida and Arizona when it’s already hot and play exhibition games in front of tiny crowds? It would seem more likely that teams would train in their own ballparks and play exhibition games there.

In Elias’ conference call on Thursday, he refused to speculate on the shape of a second spring training.

“I don’t know the answer to that,” he said. “I have no indication of what that period would look like right now.”

Earlier in the call, he did indicate that he thought the training period wouldn’t be lengthy.

“If we do have another spring training-type atmosphere, it’s probably going to be pretty short, and we still have a very large camp roster that we’re going to need to whittle down in a hurry,” Elias said.

It’s an unprecedented time for Elias and Hyde, who are used to having a six-week spring training and cutting players from the camp roster with Opening Day in mind.

The Orioles still have 50 players on their roster.

When play resumes, larger rosters could be part of the shortened season. The players and owners are negotiating a number of these conditions. One is the question of service time. While fans might not be terribly interested, it’s a key component of any agreement because players don’t want to have their opportunities for arbitration and free agency to be delayed.

While the country gets used to a time when little is happening, and the televised sports are replays of games from the past, there’s little hope that this will end soon.

The action in the NFL free-agency market was a positive thing for sports fans. Many in the NFL worried about the optics of a free-agency market while the country suffers, but it was a distraction to read about Tom Brady and Philip Rivers’ new destinations.

Ordinarily, this weekend would have been nirvana for college basketball fans as the field in the NCAA tournament would be trimmed to 16. The Orioles would have been playing their final games in Florida before Thursday’s scheduled opener.

Because of lost time and wages for so many who are suffering, baseball attendance is likely to take a major hit, and perhaps games will have to begin in empty stadiums.

No matter how ragged the play, and how unsettling a June opener might be, fans would accept the season that will be unlike any before it. Like Elias and Hyde, they’ll just have to wait.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. TxBirdFan

    March 23, 2020 at 8:13 am

    Thanks for posting this Rich! I know it must be hard to come up with new material but I look forward to reading these everyday. Keep them coming – it helps get us through this.

    • Rich Dubroff

      March 23, 2020 at 8:19 am

      Thank you, Tx. I’ll do my best.

  2. CalsPals

    March 23, 2020 at 8:33 am

    Great effort Rich, have to agree w/Boog earlier, you’re doing a wonderful job to try & find things to write about the O’s…maybe they could interact w/fans via e-games, similar to what nascar did this past weekend, can you say fantasy teams…go O’s…

    • Rich Dubroff

      March 23, 2020 at 8:37 am

      Thank you, Ray. Every morning, I have a fantasy that this is just going to go in the other direction. I keep hoping.

  3. Bancells Moustache

    March 23, 2020 at 9:32 am

    If this thing drags out but they can get guys on the field sans fans, why not keep everything in Florida and Arizona. You play an abbreviated season with the current Grapefruit and Cactus setup. Teams already have the infrastructure in place and it eliminates the need for air travel. The top 4 teams in each league then play a playoff, with a World Series between the winners. Everything is televised. Yes it’ll be weird to see a World Series of, say, Dodgers vs Mets, but it’s only for a year and better than nothing. To offset the losses to the cities, as well as ease the burden on payroll, the players are going to have to give some back. Reducing salaries and taking the difference and setting up a fund to help displaced stadium workers and local businesses seems like the only thing to do. While that’s asking ballplayers to take a significant pay cut, MLB holds the whip in public opinion. Be awful tough for a guy making 30 million to hit a ball with a stick to justify why he should keep getting that with millions of people wondering where the next meal is coming from. Baseball could come out looking like heroes if they play this smart.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      March 23, 2020 at 10:07 am

      Thanks for the contribution BanMo. As always, very thought provoking ideas you have.

    • ClayDal

      March 23, 2020 at 10:19 am

      Remember, originally most of the players were planning on staying around. It was MLB that told the players not to have workouts and go home, wherever that may be. Ownership has no desire to play games in empty stadiums. They would have to incur all the expenses and none of the revenue. If games are postponed, the owners and players can negotiate how much players can receive. If you play games in empty stadiums, players still get their money. They are fulfilling their contract obligations. So the onus of playing in empty stadiums is on management, not labor

      • Bancells Moustache

        March 23, 2020 at 10:42 am

        They can still bring in television revenue, which is the lions share anyhow. There would need to be negotiotiations regarding compensation, yes. But if you are televising the games, you have a literal captive audience and you are the only show in town. All of the crap about baseball “giving us hope” and blah blah blah. It’s a huge PR win. I’d exploit the silence of the empty stadiums too and mic everything up. Give us a real inside look at how a team communicates, how it functions, something noone has ever seen before. This is a golden opportunity for MLB to win back the title of national pastime and look like saviors in dark times… or they can squabble over the millions that they make, in full view of a public who now knows beyond a shadow of a doubt just how useless a professional athlete is in the big picture.

    • ClayDal

      March 23, 2020 at 11:19 am

      Most states are banning gatherings of over 50 people. 26 players on each team, 5 or so coaches, trainers, medical staff, umpires, grounds crew. Not to mention cameramen, broadcasters, producers. You want everybody in Sarasota for several months? Let’s say this goes for 3 months. You want Rich Dubroff, Roch Kubato , Steve M all stuck in Sarasota for 3 months? Look, the NBA, NHL, NCAA, NASCAR, the PGA , even the XFL, postponed their seasons until they could figure out what is going on. In the grand scheme of life, not having baseball for 2-3 ( maybe 4) months isn’t the end of the world. Eventually, the storm will pass and life can go on as normal. Whatever normal is

      • Bancells Moustache

        March 23, 2020 at 11:45 am

        Clay I’m aware of what’s going on, but strongly doubt that in 2-3 months we can just switch everything back on. It’ll be more than likely incremental, so while we may be able to get more than 50 people together in June, 43000 from all over Packing into Camden Yards is a little bit different animal. We might not be able to do that for quite some time. Hence my proposal. As to the plight of Roch and Rich, they cover baseball for a living. Gotta go where the baseball is. It’s not ideal, but I’d imagine it offers better financial security than there being no baseball to cover.

    • Rich Dubroff

      March 23, 2020 at 12:25 pm

      Glad to know, someone is thinking of the writers! Realistically, I can’t see that happening because the costs to the teams would be astronomical. You’re basically putting an entire team on the road for three or four months with little money coming in.

      The suggestion is inventive, and in this desperate time, something to think about.

  4. Boog Robinson Robinson

    March 23, 2020 at 10:09 am

    Why couldn’t this have happened at the start of Quidditch season?

  5. BirdsCaps

    March 23, 2020 at 11:49 am

    at least baseball hasn’t started doing video game simulations yet. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/mar/20/wizards-capitals-to-air-video-game-simulations-of-/ This was one of the stupidest things that ive ever seen, along with a county in Wisconsin urging people to turn in their friends and neighbors for having any social or religious gatherings (a tad Orwellian?). There is really nothing positive, so from the bottom of my heart, I wish everyone on this forum a Merry Quarantine!

    • Bancells Moustache

      March 23, 2020 at 12:00 pm

      I spent part of Sunday watching people in Michigan spit Cherry Seeds for distance. How bad can video hockey really be?

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        March 23, 2020 at 12:55 pm

        Not as bad as watching college age kids chase each other with a broom stuck between their legs.

      • BirdsCaps

        March 23, 2020 at 1:34 pm

        More than likely simulation hockey and Cherry seed spitting are more exciting than the birds offense.

  6. mlbbirdfan

    March 23, 2020 at 12:12 pm

    If there is approval for major league baseball to re–open for any portion of a 2020 season, how about this:
    Play doubleheaders at least once a week with each game consisting of seven innings. This has been done in the minor leagues for years.
    Start games immediately with no spring training to “level the playing field“
    Play all games In Florida and in Arizona at spring training venues with no travel costs.
    Each team plays only teams in it’s own league
    The top two teams in each league have a playoff, and then there is a World Series. This might require travel between Arizona and Florida.

    • Rich Dubroff

      March 23, 2020 at 12:21 pm

      If you played games in Florida among teams who train there and no interleague games, you’d have eight AL teams and seven NL teams. Daily split-squad games make that work in spring training, but not possible for 100 or so regular season games.

      Without any second spring training, play which will be ragged enough when they return, would be even worse, with eight or nine pitchers a game.

    • CalsPals

      March 23, 2020 at 12:29 pm

      O’s fans are kind of used to 8-9 pitchers a game, more the
      Norm lately for us…go O’s…

  7. steveboothe12

    March 23, 2020 at 5:06 pm

    The Orioles will need an extended second spring training session so the team can horseplay with a football which is extremely unusual for winning teams but not the 100+ loss Orioles.

  8. dlgruber1

    March 23, 2020 at 9:26 pm

    I’m of the belief that there will be a 2 week spring training in Florida and Arizona. They’ll play mostly night games and then the season will begin and they’ll play about 100-120 games and playoffs will be like every other season. There won’t be an All-Star break as they’ll play straight thru with maybe a few more doubleheaders to play as many games as possible.

  9. J Guy

    March 23, 2020 at 10:16 pm

    Do away with inter league play forever. They have systematically killed baseball . Inter league play stinks. We don’t watch or attend them

You must be logged in to post a comment Login or Register Here

Leave a Reply

To Top