Maricopa County Officials To MLB: Stay Home For Now

COVID-19 is a problem.

Major League Baseball plans to move ahead with the 2021 spring training portion of the calendar. The Major League Baseball Players Association wants to play ball in the spring training portion of the calendar. But Maricopa County, Arizona health officials do not want to see Major League Baseball players report to the 15 Major League Baseball training camps around the Phoenix-Scottsdale-Mesa-Tempe-Peoria-Glendale-Surprise area because COVID-19 is a massive problem. The health officials would like to see Major League Baseball back up the spring training portion of the calendar by a month but that could back up the season by a month and that would cause the playoffs to end in November. MLB and its TV partner FOX probably don’t want November baseball. The Major League Baseball Players Association just wants to play a full season.

The Cactus League sent a letter to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred stating that “in view of the current state of the pandemic in Maricopa County with one of the nation’s highest infection rates, we believe it is wise to delay the start of spring training to allow for the COVID-19 situation to improve here.”  The Cactus League’s executive director Bridget Binsbacher, along with Martin Harvier, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community President, the city managers of Phoenix and Tempe; and the mayors of Mesa, Surprise, Peoria, Scottsdale, Goodyear and Glendale signed off on the letter.  The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects a sharp decline in infections in Arizona by mid-March. The Institute suggests there will be 9,712 daily infections on February 15th and 3,072 daily infections on March 15th. The numbers are projections. MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association would have to cut a deal to move back spring training. Cactus League officials think pushing back the schedule could allow people to attend games.

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A fan waits with a ball and pen for an autograph as Oakland Athletics’ Sean Murphy signs behind before a spring training baseball game against the Seattle Mariners Saturday, March 7, 2020, in Peoria, Ariz. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)