The 2021 schedule is set, but will spring training and the season actually start on time for the Seattle Mariners and the rest of MLB?
As things stand, spring training is scheduled to begin on Feb. 27, with opening day set for Apr. 1. For the Seattle Mariners specifically, they are meant to start their regular season at home to the San Francisco Giants.
However, the truth is these dates are not 100 percent set in stone. This is the reality, when factoring in the ongoing challenges presented by the COVID-19 virus still circulating around the United States.
As recently reported by Bob Nightengale of USA Today, MLB team owners want all players vaccinated before spring training starts. This would mean spring training likely not beginning on time, due to everything which would need to happen to bring the vaccination plans to fruition.
The knock-on effect would result in a delayed start to the 2021 regular season, with the owners apparently targeting May. Nightengale added that this would result in teams playing 140 games as opposed to the usual 162 in a typical season.
On the positive side the plan would seem to make sense, with safety being the number one priority in all of this. However, this will likely be countered by those who believe this is also a way for the owners to save some money on salaries, especially when considering the losses they made last year.
From the MLBPA’s perspective they reject the premise of a delayed start, stating they expect spring training and the regular season to begin on time. As per Barry M. Bloom of sports business publication Sportico, the players association have released a statement which reads:
“As we’ve made clear to the league on multiple occasions, we expect spring training and the regular season to start on time and as scheduled, consistent with our CBA. The Commissioner’s office has assured us that they have instructed the Clubs to prepare for an on time start.”
The second part of the statement is of particular interest, seemingly indicating the talk of a delayed start to spring training is just that – talk. However, this could potentially just be a case of Commissioner Ron Manfred and company attempting to appease the players association.
In this respect, consider the league’s latest statement. Also sent to Sportico‘s Bloom, the statement read:
“We have announced the dates for the start of spring training and the championship season. As we get closer we will, in consultation with public health authorities, our medical experts, and the Players Association, determine whether any modifications should be considered in light of the current surge in COVID-19 cases and the challenges we faced in 2020 completing a 60-game season in a sport that plays every day.”
In essence, what MLB is saying is that as things stand, spring training and the regular season will start on time. However, if anything gives the league justifiable reason to delay matters, they will do.
Objectively speaking, we do believe the league should do everything possible to ensure the health of the players, No matter how much those same players believe such a move would be motivated by money, they need to also think of their personal safety — as well as their families — in the face of the ongoing pandemic.
While the Mariners have not officially confirmed when pitchers and catchers will report, it is expected to be Feb. 16 or 17. However, as with the rest of the teams, this will be pending further discussions between the league and the players association.
Factoring into any discussions must be the impact of COVID-19 in Arizona and Florida, where teams attend spring training. Arizona in particular — where the M’s travel to for spring training — has been struggling of late. (At the time of writing, Arizona had the second-highest daily rate among all 50 states of cases per 100k in the last week.)
There is a lot to look forward to in 2021, thanks to a young and talented Mariners roster which should only continue to improve. As such, fans will keep their fingers crossed that the regular season will still start on or around Apr. 1.
Do you believe spring training and the regular season will begin on time, or be delayed? Regardless, what kind of year are you predicting for the Seattle Mariners in 2021? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.