MLB owners favor delaying start to 2021 season: report

Major League Baseball team owners believe the start of the 2021 season should be delayed and the number of games reduced unless all players can be vaccinated against COVID-19 before the start of spring training, U.S. media reported Tuesday.
USA Today reported that MLB owners want the start of the new season to be pushed back to May from March, with the schedule being cut from 162 to 140 or 130 games to reduce the impact of the coronavirus.
Baseball traditionally gears up for the season with spring training in Arizona and Florida starting from February.
However, with coronavirus cases skyrocketing across the United States, where more than 302,000 lives have been lost to the pandemic, team owners are skeptical that pre-season training can take place safely as scheduled.
USA Today reported that owners believed a May start to a reduced season would allow more time for players and team staff to receive the vaccine, which only began to be administered in the United States on Monday.
"I don't see a snowball's chance in hell that spring training can start with protocols in place," one unnamed National League team owner told USA Today.
"I think there will be significant pressure for players to get the vaccine first before they go to spring training, and if that has to be moved back to April and play 130 games, so be it. But to have 162 games, and start spring training at the normal time without players being vaccinated, that's just crazy.
"Does Arizona and Florida, with their cases spiking, really want teams with about 125 people in each organization coming to town without vaccines?"
An owner from the American League echoed the concerns. "I don't see any way spring training starts in February," the paper quoted him as saying. "Zero chance of that. I don't care if we play 140 games, 120 games or 80 games, we have to make sure everyone is safe to do this right."
The pandemic wreaked havoc on the 2020 baseball season, forcing the league to play a drastically reduced 60-game regular season before a postseason staged in neutral venues.

© 2020 AFP
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