MLB season opening: Is it in serious peril? Should it be?

TORONTO, ON- MARCH 31 - Lots of room for fans to dance in the stands as the Toronto Blue Jays fall to the Detroit Tigers 4-3 in 11 innings at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. March 31, 2019. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON- MARCH 31 - Lots of room for fans to dance in the stands as the Toronto Blue Jays fall to the Detroit Tigers 4-3 in 11 innings at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. March 31, 2019. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

The MLB season opening is now officially threatened as eight teams are based in the three COVID-19, most-infected states.

As I drove out on an errand today (Mar. 11), making sure my car was six feet away from the next one and keeping my window up, I began to mull over the potential of the MLB season opening being postponed or seriously disrupted.

And, no, the first part of that sentence isn’t meant as a remark discounting the WHO-declared pandemic related to COVID-19. I take this matter fairly seriously.

More from Call to the Pen

It was just that, almost on cue, two stories broke – at least to me, via local sports talk radio – reinforcing the notion that a dumpster fire for the MLB season opening could be a real possibility.

The first story had to do with the NBA Warriors announcing they will be playing home games in an empty arena, following a San Francisco ban on gatherings of 1000 or more people.

The second involved the Seattle Mariners’ serious consideration of starting their season at their Spring Training site in Peoria, AZ, because Washington state is a hotbed of the coronavirus infection.

Oops, now they will play their March home games away, per ESPN.com. Blink and you’ll fall behind here. Where, exactly, is up in the air.

At last count there have been 24 deaths in Washington state related to this pandemic’s 281 cases there. That number will surely have gone up by the time your read this, no matter how quickly I type. (Figures should update here.)

The Texas Rangers are scheduled to go to Seattle Mar. 26 for the Sailors home opener, and one has to wonder how they felt about that prospect even two weeks out from date, to say nothing of the notion of piling into an airplane with a crew who’s been who knows where before that flight. Are there others who fly with a team on their charter?

For the record, the Mariners themselves fly an Alaska Airlines charter, and have for years. Alaska Airlines is based in Seattle.

Well, this becomes complicated, huh? However, in the true spirit of sports talk airwaves, the program I was listening to involved at least one host who wanted to cut off discussion of the pandemic’s numbers and science, hoping to limit the discussion to only the potential for sporting events disruption.

Hard to do. Simply declaring, as this host did, that we don’t know what’s going on isn’t the best idea, even if you fear your program will turn into a MAGA vs. The Libs shout-fest.

The decisions about the games and where or if they’re played will be based on facts. One hopes.

Here are a few: The most cases of infection by this new coronavirus are in Washington, California, and New York. The MLB season opening will, therefore, involve eight teams who will host games in those three states or involve players and team staff who have very likely been in those states fairly close to Opening Day.

More. Spring Training: The mid-spring All-Star roster. light

And despite the efforts of some politicians to obscure this, this new virus is more deadly than the more common forms of flu. According to the senior infectious disease expert (M.D.) at Johns Hopkins, as of Mar. 11, the mortality rate for COVID-19 is 3.597 percent worldwide – 4373 deaths in 121,564 cases.

The death rate for influenza is between .029 and .065 percent over an estimated one billion cases annually.

These are the numbers MLB and MLB team officials will have to consider after they get the dimwit debate about “fake news” out of the way.

Next. White Sox: Michael Kopech lights out in return. dark

If you have MLB season opening tickets for very particular games this season – at least – you will have to make a decision as well. That is, if your team hasn’t already made it for you. Indeed, all Opening Day fans planning to watch their favorite teams in person may have to make that decision.