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Opening Day delayed by at least two weeks, spring training canceled due to coronavirus

Baseball has followed NBA and NHL in suspending operations. The start of the MLB season will be delayed by at least two weeks.

Baltimore Unrest Forces Orioles Play White Sox In An Empty Camden Yards
Baseball is on hold for a while.
Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

On Wednesday night, the spread of the coronavirus pandemic touched the world of American professional sports when a Utah Jazz player tested positive for the virus. The NBA suspended its season before the night was out. Hockey followed today, and more relevant to Orioles fans, baseball has followed suit.

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and others reported on Thursday afternoon that MLB was expected to suspend operations indefinitely. That includes all remaining spring training games and at least

Early afternoon games were ongoing despite all of this drama. The cancellation only took effect at 4pm. That is a particular pity for former Oriole Jake Arrieta, who left his outing due to an injury of some kind.

For whatever it’s worth, the apparent cancellation of tonight’s spring training game hasn’t kept some players from continuing to do work at the complex in Sarasota. According to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, the league will ask players to remain at the team camps so that they can have access to medical personnel and keep working out, but will not require players to do so.

In the release announcing this decision, MLB said:

MLB and the Clubs have been preparing a variety of contingency plans regarding the 2020 regular season schedule. MLB will announce the effects on the schedule at an appropriate time and will remain flexible as events warrant, with the hope of resuming normal operations as soon as possible.

The Orioles issued this statement after the MLB action:

The Orioles organization is fully supportive of Major League Baseball’s decision to suspend Spring Training games and to delay the start of the 2020 regular season by at least two weeks. The health and safety of our players, fans, staff, and partners will always be our top priority. We will communicate additional details, including information about refunds, directly to fans when they become available, as this is a rapidly-evolving situation. We encourage everyone to continue to follow the important guidelines established by the CDC and other public health organizations.

If the pandemic is under control enough in America to play baseball in a month’s time, that will be good news. Hopefully, subsequent events don’t necessitate another postponement.

The goings-on of sports don’t matter much when compared to the public health need to stop the spread of a virus that has proven to be deadly, for which there is currently no vaccine. Still, it sucks that there won’t be sports to bring some entertainment in such a chaotic time.

Everything that’s been going on this week makes it clear this was the only decision to make. MLB and other professional and amateur sports leagues and conferences may even have been late in making it. But it’s a bummer. Please do what you can to keep yourself and those around you safe.