In the wake of the COVID-19, commonly known as coronavirus, the Seattle Mariners and MLB have been considering alternatives to traditional regular season game venues, including, per Evan Drellich of The Athletic, starting the Mariners regular season off in their Arizona complex in Peoria, AZ. Opening Day for Seattle is Thursday, March 26th, two weeks and a day from tomorrow, when Washington State Governor Jay Inslee is expected to hold a press conference outlining temporary bans on gatherings of more than 250 people, including sporting events and concerts, as reported by both The Everett Daily Herald and The Seattle Times. As Ryan Divish of the Times noted, the MLB Players Union will have a say in any plan the team and the league settle upon as well.
Unless whatever restrictions are announced by the Governor are surprisingly brief, it is doubtful that the regular season will begin as planned in Seattle. As of now the discussions are reportedly only focused on the opening home set, from the 26th of March through the 1st of April, as they host the Rangers and Twins. The team could continue to hold its games in T-Mobile Park as planned, in games closed to the public as the Baltimore Orioles did a few years back. There might be concern from players on Seattle’s roster, as well as the rest of MLB, over traveling to Seattle in the midst of significant quarantine measures, but it’s hard to know how teams will handle this situation. In fact, it’s hazy as to how this mandate can/will be enforced on sports teams.
The top professional baseball leagues of both Japan and South Korea have delayed the beginning of their seasons outright, while major sporting leagues across Europe and the rest of the world have either adopted the empty stadium plan or suspended games entirely. Thus far, MLB’s only measure has been to restrict clubhouse access for reporters, as well as beef up hygiene protocols within their facilities and encourage teams to pre-sign baseballs instead of directly grabbing them from fans.
Seattle’s next home set doesn’t come until April 9-14, hosting the Red Sox and Nationals, after which they have an extended road trip that keeps them away from home until April 28th. Depending on the length of these restrictions, while peculiar, they might not impact Seattle as heavily as other clubs, thanks to their road-heavy early schedule, but that’s pure speculation.
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