Tagged in: May

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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California cancels all combat sports through May

The California State Athletic Commission, as first reported by ESPN, has canceled all combat sports events in its state through the end of May.

Under main directions of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, the move was a proactive measure to help inhibit the spread of the covid-19 virus that has the world dealing with a global pandemic.

“The Commission didn’t take this decision lightly and understands the potential economic loss to promoters and the industry of combative sports. We had to weigh the best interest of our fighters and the community around us,” the CSAC statement said.

The UFC has already postponed at least three events, though company president Dana White has insisted on trying to move forward with UFC 249 on April 18. He has yet to name a location or a new main event now that UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is set to stay in place in his home country of Russia.

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The UFC had one date slated for California in May. UFC on ESPN+ 33 was slated for May 16 at Pechanga Arena with a main event featuring lightweights Dustin Poirier and Dan Hooker. That event, at minimum, will have to move locations or be reprogrammed for a later date.

In addition to the UFC, Bellator MMA had also been slated for two events in California in May. 

Bellator 242 was set to feature dual-division champion Ryan Bader defend his light heavyweight strap versus Vadim Nemkov on May 9 in San Jose. Former UFC contender Liz Carmouche was expected to make her promotion debut opposite Mandy Böhm in the Bellator 243 headliner on May 29, at the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula.

Bellator had already reported that it was cancelling its May events prior to the release from the California State Athletic Commission.

Most other fight promotions around the globe have canceled all events through at least April, if not May.

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