It's official - the Spring Training games that were played yesterday are the last baseball that's going to be played until further notice. Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that Major League Baseball has cancelled the rest of Spring Training, and the start of the 2020 season will be delayed by a minimum of two weeks, and both Minor League Baseball and the World Baseball Classic qualifying games has been suspended indefinitely.
In all likelihood, the delay may be extended past two weeks. As things stand right now, the earliest game the Phillies could play is Thursday, April 9th in Cincinnati.
Obviously, there are much more serious matters going on in the world than a few cancelled baseball games, but this is still a big deal. To the best of my knowledge, there has never been a cancellation like this in the 151 year history of Major League Baseball. There have been games cancelled because of strikes and lockouts, but never has the entire league come to a standstill due to a public health crisis, or any other emergency situation for that matter.
So far, no other decisions have been finalized or announced about the 2020 season. It's possible that MLB reschedule these games extend the season to later in the year, but I think it's unlikely. The last game of the season was scheduled for September 27th. When you include the playoffs, the last game of the World Series would probably have been in early November. Even if the season starts on April 9th (which is far from a guarantee), a full season would mean that the World Series could be pretty close to Thanksgiving. If that happens, they may have to play the Series at a neutral ballpark in the south where it's still warm.
I think they're going to end up cancelling these games and play a shortened schedule similar to the strike-shortened 1995 season. That year, the regular season began on April 25th and each team played a 144 game schedule. It would mean giving refunds on all of the tickets that have already been sold, but it's the more realistic option - especially if the suspension extends beyond two weeks, which it probably will.
So, putting aside the seriousness of this pandemic, what does this mean for the Phillies?
- Players who have had injury concerns will have extra time to rehab. This means that Andrew McCutchen and Tommy Hunter may be ready for the start of the 2020 season after all. This will also allow the doctors and trainers more time to determine if Seranthony Dominguez will need Tommy John surgery, or if his shoulder is well enough to pitch this season.
- If fewer games are played this season, service time will be impacted. This means that prospects like Alec Bohm and Spencer Howard may not make their major league debut until June or July.
- Speaking of Spencer Howard, a shortened season may work to his benefit. He's never pitched over 100 innings in a season, and ways to limit his workload while working him in to the major league rotation has been a talking point all winter.
- Last, but not least, if all hell breaks loose and we end up living in a post-apocalyptic Zombieland, the Philadelphia Phillies will be the last champions in the history of Major League Baseball. With their victory yesterday against the Rays, the Phillies 2020 Spring Training record is 14-5, which is the best record in baseball this Spring. Nevermind the World Series or games that actually count. The Phillies are the champions of the Grapefruit League! Yeah, baby!
|Rule #32 - Enjoy The Little Things|