Imagine if they held a baseball season and no one played.
According to J.J. Cooper of Baseball America, the independent Atlantic League recently announced that their schedule, which usually begins in late April, would commence on May 28th this year. But no details were included; no dates were given, and no teams were listed.
Across minor league baseball, it’s a similar situation. Early last month, MLB teams were informed that spring training for AA and A level players would not begin until AAA and major league players had left their spring training sites for the start of the regular season. Minor League spring training ordinarily starts about two weeks after the big league camp commences.
Given that the minor leaguers involved would need three to four weeks to prepare for the season, the earliest those levels could start would be in early May. The persistent rumour for several sources is that June is more likely. Clubs have been told by MLB to be prepared for a season that will run until October.
AAA seasons may run as usual, but that may depend on whether or not MLB teams are still operating in bubbles as they did last year. Unless the Canadian government opens the border, the Blue Jays will have a dilemma on their hands, whether they opt to use Buffalo once again,or their spring training home in Dunedin.
MLB is also considering a six days on/one day off scheduling module, which would see teams play six games in one city, with a set day off each week. That would be a welcome development for the players. It would also cut down on travel costs for the minor leagues.
As the winter marches on toward spring, there still is a considerable air of uncertainty among minor league front offices, though. Most have furloughed staff, but with assurances that their employment will eventually return. Hiring freezes have been instituted as team finances are stretched. An email exchange with an executive of one of the Blue Jays full season teams underscores that things are still somewhat up in the air.
Unfortunately, not much has changed for us. Still in a holding pattern waiting to see how things unfold for the 2021 season. Quite a few unknowns regarding the whole process are still present. Frustrating to not have better information but hopefully something will become clear here in the near future.
In the meantime, the trucks are loaded and headed south for warmer climes. Minor league teams will be watching the Florida and Arizona developments with added interest this spring.