In the time of COVID-19, no schedule is complete without caveats to consult and confirm with health officials. Cases of coronavirus may surge further, breakouts and hot spots remain possible even as vaccines begin to make their way into circulation. And despite ubiquitous uncertainty, as well as owners advocating for delay, it appears the 2021 season will start on time, per The Athletic’s Evan Drellich. MLB and the MLBPA have each announced their intentions to stick to the CBA and provide regularly-scheduled kick-offs for spring training and opening day.
The presumption has been that any potential delay would come from the urging of the league office, but Drellich provides this statement from MLB, “We have announced the dates for the start of Spring Training and the Championship Season. As we get closer we will, in consultation with public health authorities, our medical experts, and the Players Association, determine whether any modifications should be considered in light of the current surge in COVID-19 cases and the challenges we faced in 2020 completing a 60-game season in a sport that plays every day.”
Owners would prefer to delay the start of the season in order to get more people vaccinated and generally provide a safer playing environment. But they also want to limit the number of games played without fans in attendance. With the CBA in place, however, MLB has little recourse but to start the season on time. Considering the success of the NFL and NBA to operate under the present circumstances, it would likely take a significant degradation of our present circumstances to seriously derail the season.
This is good news for the players, who have continually advocated for a full 162-game season. The logistics of said season remain as complicated as ever, and the schedule itself is likely to be a dynamic document. Still, it does seem likelier than ever that there will be a full season in 2021.