New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday that the Yankees and Mets will hold their training camps—assuming baseball resumes—in-state rather than traveling to Florida, where COVID-19 appears to be on the rise. The Yankees are based in Tampa during the spring season while the Mets are stationed 160 miles east in Port St. Lucie.
With MLB opting to close its spring venues amid a flood of new cases in both Florida and Arizona, the Mets and Yankees didn’t have much choice on the matter. Florida, which reopened much sooner than states in the northeast (many of them are still under quarantine), has experienced a significant COVID setback with 4,049 new cases (the state’s single-day high) reported Friday. In addition to the Blue Jays and Phillies, who both saw outbreaks at their facilities in Florida, the Tempe-based Angels have also had players test positive for the illness.
While much of the conversation has centered on tension between players and owners, who have been at odds for months while negotiating the sport’s eventual return, T.J. Quinn of ESPN reported Saturday that containing the coronavirus presents a much larger obstacle to MLB than the league’s ongoing labor standoff. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading coronavirus expert, has already expressed skepticism that the NFL will be able to return as planned and now baseball finds itself in the same predictament. Hockey (Maple Leafs star Auston Meadows was just diagnosed with COVID), college football (Clemson and Texas have been particularly hard hit) and even golf (Nick Watney had to withdraw from this week’s tournament in Hilton Head after a positive test) are on similarly shaky ground.
It’s too early to tell if baseball is doomed, though developments over the past 24 hours have certainly complicated the league’s path to a return in 2020.