The 2021 MLB Spring Training season is scheduled to get underway shortly and the league is still considering how to proceed while keeping fans and players safe. At the time of this article, a plan was under review that would keep teams that train on the West Coast and East Coast apart for spring training ball games. It’s all being discussed for the purpose of limiting the spread of the coronavirus.
If the new plan gets approved, MLB said the 10 MLB teams on the West Coast would only play one another, and the same would go for the five teams on the East Coast, which includes the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Mets, Miami Marlins, Houston Astros and Washington Nationals.
The East Coast teams would also play fewer games as part of the updated schedule.
The health and safety guidelines will not be a big surprise for observers considering how outdoor sports has been affected since the start of the pandemic. For instance, fans will be seated in pods six feet apart, and ballpark entrances will be opened on a scheduled basis. Masks will be required. In spring training, season-ticket holders will be given first access to tickets; as of now only a few teams are selling and processing season tickets, and no ballpark has put single-game tickets on sale.
Fans will not be allowed to view workouts, unless they are held in the ballpark with fans limited to their assigned seats, or to seek autographs. And, there will be a mandated six-feet buffer between players and fans (save the area around the dugouts, where there will be a 12-foot buffer between fans and players). That will take the first three rows of the grandstand out of play. These are minimum standards; local authorities may mandate more protective measures.
The good news in all of this is warmer weather is coming and baseball is back baby!