Leagues are already beginning to discuss changes to their seasons next year because of the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic this year. Woj reported just last night that the NBA could push its regular season back to December for 2020-21.
Will MLB also have to delay its 2021 season? With July seeming like the most realistic start date this year and the playoffs potentially bleeding into December, it's a distinct possibility.
The topic of 2021, understandably, hasn't been discussed much yet because there are still so many things to work out for 2020. But leagues can't lose sight of the impact a delayed, shortened, intensified season could have on players and teams next year.
Complete coverage of the Fightin' Phils and their MLB rivals from NBC Sports Philadelphia.
Phillies vet Jay Bruce discussed this in an interview with our Gregg Murphy.
"My biggest concern is the collateral damage that could be caused for 2021," Bruce said. "I don't think it's realistic to ask guys to play into December or whatever and then be expected to come back to spring training in February ready to go. I think we have to tread lightly when it comes to drawing it out for a long time. Now, if you wanna add doubleheaders and squeeze games in with less days off, that's something I think can definitely happen.
"I wanna play as many games as possible but I also understand that people's careers are marathons. You can't necessarily go kamikaze for 75 to 90 games just to try to salvage what you can when a lot of these guys have 7, 8, 10 years left. Managing that and being smart about the normalcy of the seasons moving forward are very, very important for the players, the teams, the leagues, everyone."
While fewer games in 2020 could lead to fewer injuries, there could also be instances of pitchers overthrowing and hurting their arms. There could be instances of players trying to cram six weeks of spring training regimens into a couple weeks and suffering an injury because of it. If there are fewer days off, wear and tear can build more easily. If there are weekly doubleheaders, that's 18 innings of baseball a lot of key players will be playing.
There is a ton to think about. MLB is already considering these possibilities, but 2021 isn't as pressing right now as knowing when the 2020 season could begin. With so much unknown, it's not even worth publicizing any plans beyond this year.
"I'm certain that everyone has had those conversations, people that are much, much smarter than me and have the knowledge of what we're capable of as players, as teams and for the league," Bruce said. "I'm not gonna try and figure it all out, I'm just gonna take the information I'm given, trust the people giving it to me and be ready when the time comes."