Tagged in: guidelines

Latest hearing on when could MLB actually start

Over the past two weeks, as states have started to plan their reopenings, nearly everyone along the decision-making continuum — league officials, players, union leaders, owners, doctors, politicians, TV power brokers, team executives — has grown increasingly optimistic that there will be baseball this year, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

The season could still take many forms with games starting in front of empty stadiums still very likely when play does reopen.

Major League Baseball and its players are increasingly focused on a plan that could allow them to start the season as early as May and has the support of high-ranking federal public health officials who believe the league can safely operate amid the coronavirus pandemic, sources told ESPN.

The plan, sources said, would dictate that all 30 teams play games at stadiums with no fans in the Phoenix area, including the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field, 10 spring training facilities and perhaps other nearby fields.

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Players, coaching staff and other essential personnel would be sequestered at local hotels, where they would live in relative isolation and travel only to and from the stadium, sources said. Federal officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the National Institutes of Health have been supportive of a plan that would adhere to strict isolation, promote social distancing and allow MLB to become the first professional sport to return.

Rob Manfred said after a conference call with all 30 teams that Major League Baseball will push back Opening Day until mid-May at the earliest after the federal government recommended restricting events of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks.

There are folks at the team level who think that a return in June might be possible but, in the end, may be an optimistic projection.

The realities of the federal and state main directions and the calendar of baseball preparation supports that: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just recommended having no crowds of greater than 50 for the next eight weeks — and assuming that MLB and the players’ association would respect that direction (and there’s no reason to think they wouldn’t), that would mean that spring training wouldn’t resume until mid-May, at the earliest.

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NFL confirms virtual draft with team personnel at their homes

The NFL draft will be performed in a virtual format, with team personnel working from their homes.

In a memo sent to the 32 teams Monday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell outlined procedures for the April 23-25 draft. The guidelines contained no group gatherings.

“We have reviewed this matter in the past few days with both the competition committee and CEC (a group of league executives),” Goodell wrote, “and this will confirm that clubs will conduct their draft operations remotely, with club personnel separately located in their homes.”

All team facilities were closed on March 26 and Goodell has ordered them to stay shut indefinitely.

“We will reopen facilities when it is safe to do so based on medical and public health advice, and in compliance with government mandates,” he wrote.

The draft initially was scheduled to be held in Las Vegas, but the NFL canceled all public events last month as a safeguard against the coronavirus.

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On Monday, Goodell instructed the teams on how they should plan to make their selections.

“We have made this decision for several reasons,” he wrote. “All clubs will not have access to their facilities, which is contrary to the fundamental equity principle that all clubs operate in a consistent and fair way.

“Moreover, we want all NFL personnel to comply with government directives and to model safe and appropriate health practices. Our staff will carry out its responsibilities in the same way, operating in separate locations outside of our offices. And after consulting with medical advisers, we cannot identify an alternative that is preferable from a medical or public health perspective, given the varying needs of clubs, the need properly to screen participants, and the unique risk factors that individual club employees may face.”

Several team general managers had sought a delay in the draft, basically citing an unfair playing field.

But the owners pushed for the draft, the NFL’s biggest offseason event, to take place as scheduled.

It is up to each team to ensure not only safe and healthy conditions, but to offset any perceived competitive imbalance under the directions set forth by Goodell.

“We are operating in an environment unlike anything we have experienced before,” Goodell added, “one that requires flexibility, patience, and cooperation.”

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