MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laid out the conditions that must be in place before the baseball season can resume during a TV appearance on Tuesday.
The league currently has only one firm plan for how and when to proceed, Manfred told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo, saying games won't resume until it's clear that doing so is safe for all parties and won't exacerbate the pandemic.
“The only decision we have made, the only real plan that we have," Manfred said, "is that baseball is not going to return until the public health situation is improved to the point that we’re comfortable that we can play games in a manner that is safe for our players, our employees, our fans and in a way that will not impact the public health situation adversely."
MLB's season has been on hold for over a month, like much of the rest of the US. Spring Training was shut down about two weeks prior to Opening Day with seemingly no end in sight, naturally fueling speculation about possible return scenarios.
“Right now, it’s largely a waiting game," Manfred said. "During that period, as you might expect any business would, we have engaged in contingency planning. We thought about how we might be able to return in various scenarios but again the key is the improvement in the public health situation.”
Manfred acknowledged the speculation -- one scenario floated last week suggested all 30 teams would be essentially quarantined in either Florida or Arizona for the duration of the season -- but downplayed their seriousness.
“We have a variety of contingency plans that we have talked about and worked on -- plans may be too strong a word. Ideas may be a better word. All of them are designed to address limitations that may exist when businesses restart – travel limitations, limitations on mass gatherings that may still exist. We thought about ways to try and make baseball available to all the fans across the United States in the face of those restrictions."
The remark speaks to the difficulty in getting games back on the field owing to logistical complications.
“So from our perspective we don’t have a plan, we have lots of ideas. What ideas come to fruition will depend on what the restrictions are, what the public health situation is."
Manfred insisted baseball would be part of the solution.
"But we are intent on the idea of trying to make baseball part of the recovery – the economic recovery – and sort of a milestone on the return of normalcy.”