Multiple reports have MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association discussing the proposal over the weekend. Under the terms of the MLB plan, spring training would be delayed by a month, with spring training launching on March 22 and the regular season beginning April 28 and ending Oct. 10, a week later than the current schedule. The current schedule has pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training around Feb. 16-17 and exhibition games beginning Feb. 27, with the regular season beginning April 1.
Other changes proposed by MLB include expanded playoffs with 14 teams participating, seven-inning doubleheaders, a universal DH and a World Series running into the beginning of November.
If players do not sign off on the proposals–and indications are that they will be rejected– spring training and the regular season would launch on the original dates. MLB does not have the power to unilaterally impose a new 2021 season schedule.
The reason for the proposal is pretty simple: with COVID-19 rates declining nationally, a month delay would provide a better chance of more fans into the stands both for spring training and the regular season. Arizona is pacing the nation in COVID-19 positive tests, but that number has been declining in recent weeks, down 26 percent in the last week, and as vaccinations take hold, health experts see further declines in coming weeks. Citing research predicting a much lower rate of Maricopa County COVID-19 infections by mid-March, Cactus League city and tribal officials have asked for a month delay to the start of 2021 spring training.
Our advice: stay the course and continue to make flexible travel plans. Right now the assumption is that spring training will indeed start on time, but definitely watch this space for updates on the status of spring training 2021–and definitely subscribe to our newsletter.
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