March put a stop to all the major sporting events because of the COVID-19 quarantine measures. Like all other leagues, MLB stopped where it was and started figuring out how it could recover the losses.
MLB had a fast solution at the beginning of April: play the games in Japan. Many sports experts labeled this move “ridiculous” and hurried to discard it. This solution might have been valid at the time for 2 reasons.
First of all, the number of people who had Coronavirus was drastically lower in Japan compared to the USA. Secondly, in just 2 months, Japan is already getting ready for the Nippon Professional Baseball league.
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It has been almost a month since Korean baseball opened. And although the teams play without the fans present in the arenas, the league is progressing with relative success. Of course, there are safety precautions set in place, and they have been working so far.
The Japanese league, Nippon Professional Baseball, has already ironed out the logistical details. It is planning to reopen the season very soon. In fact, NBP commissioner Atsushi Saito made an announcement last week about the league opening on June 19. The plan is to play 120 games, instead of the usual 143 and announce the champion down the line.
It is exciting to see the sport opening up elsewhere in the world, so there is still hope for MLB in 2020. Playing in Japan, however, might not be the best solution the league administration is discussing.
The main goal in the league reopening logistics is to limit travel and cut doubleheaders. Playing the MLB games in Japan now seems illogical because the process of stopping the quarantine in the USA is already in motion. Today, it is more realistic to figure out the differences between the Baseball Players Association and MLB.
There is quite a bit of tension between the two parties now because of the financial problems and league arrangement. The 80-game season with expanded rosters and competition in home ballparks means less salary for the players.
If this solution is final, the usual season of 162 games will be cut down in half, making it easier for the officials to control the virus situation. This variant also keeps the season from lasting much longer than a regular one, which usually lasts till early October.
At the same time, when the rumors about playing in Japan started spreading, another version to continue the season was to play in Arizona. Now the MLB officials have almost agreed that the teams should play in their home ballparks. This solution is not perfect and depends on the local authorities and quarantine measures.
Whatever the final decision will be, the latest news suggests that MLB should return in early July. MLB will likely follow the Asian example while organizing the games. There will be precautions and measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the arenas and training facilities.
Although the fans will have to follow the games from the other side of the screens, there is a bit of positive development for bettors. Finally, the baseball will return to the sports betting market, and punters will be able to get back into the game!