Report: MLB season could continue even if COVID outbreak forces teams to drop out

In a bid to exhaust every potential scenario Major League Baseball could face this season, SNY's Andy Martino made an interesting discovery Friday.

If an outbreak of COVID-19 cases forces one or more of MLB's 30 teams to drop out mid-season, the league will not necessarily be required to suspend the season or shut it down.

According to a newly revealed passage in the agreement between MLB and the players union, commissioner Rob Manfred will decide if and when it is appropriate to suspend or cancel an individual game or the entire season. His decision will be based on several factors, including the "competitive integrity" of the game.

From SNY:

The March 26 agreement is now updated to include this passage, which SNY has obtained:

The Commissioner retains the right to suspend or cancel the 2020 championship season or postseason, or any games therein, in the event that (i) restrictions on travel throughout the United States are imposed; (ii) there is a material change in circumstances such that the Commissioner determines, after consultation with recognized medical experts and the Players Association, that it poses an unreasonable health and safety risk to players or staff to stage those games, even without fans in attendance; or (III) The number of players who are unavailable to perform services due to COVID-19 is so great that the competitive integrity of the season is undermined.

Martino's sources tell him the first two items in the above passage were agreed to in March. The third item covering positive tests and competitive integrity was added Tuesday.

Then there's this excerpt from Martino:

Baked into the amended language is an acknowledgement that an outbreak within a team could decimate it or cause the cancellation of games. That would not automatically mean an end to the season itself.

The report does not clarify MLB’s definition of “competitive integrity" or how many COVID-19 cases would be required for Manfred to consider suspending or cancelling operations. Nor does it explain how a team going on hiatus or dropping out would alter the schedule or standings.

The league is determined to play 60 games in 66 days, so there’s literally no wiggle room to rework travel and reschedule a block of games that could be cancelled. Would teams just be rewarded wins for having the ability to show up? Would they finish with less games? None of that is made clear.

What is clear is that MLB league is hopeful this scenario will not occur. However, with COVID-19 cases spiking across the country and across the baseball landscape, no scenario, even the worst of the worst cases, should be reasonably ruled out.

Commissioner Rob Manfred could keep the MLB season going even if one or more teams are forced to drop out. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Commissioner Rob Manfred could keep the MLB season going even if one or more teams are forced to drop out. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

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