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With Season Still In Jeopardy, Fauci Says MLB Should Finish Before Fall

A grounds crew member mowed in right field as work continued to keep the Seattle Mariners' field this May. Now the MLB's season may be in jeopardy.
Elaine Thompson
A grounds crew member mowed in right field as work continued to keep the Seattle Mariners' field this May. Now the MLB's season may be in jeopardy.

While it's still unclear when, if ever, Major League Baseball will play a 2020 season, a new recommendation from Dr. Anthony Fauci may have the league consider an earlier ending.

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview with The Los Angeles Times that he would recommend the league finish its postseason before October.

"If the question is time, I would try to keep it in the core summer months and end it not with the way we play the World Series, until the end of October when it's cold," Fauci told the LA Times. "I would avoid that."

The league, which usually starts play in April and ends in October, put opening day on hold back in March along with most major sports organizations. Though as states lifted restrictions, the league began eyeing a date to get the season underway. Unfortunately for fans, however teams and the player's union have been unable to agree on a schedule.

Commissioner Rob Manfred has also wavered in his confidence of a 2020 season, going from asserting that he was "100 %" certain to saying this year might not see any MLB games, according to the Associated Press.

Noting that the warmer states of California and Arizona are startingto see resurgences as they open, Fauci said the spread of the coronavirus is still a major threat during the summer months. Unlike in summer, however, a season that bled into winter would have to face the dual threat of the pandemic and flu season.

"If you look at the kinds of things that could happen, there's no guarantee of anything. You would want to do it at a time when there isn't the overlap between influenza and the possibility of a fall second wave, " Fauci said.

Playing games amid both a pandemic and flu seasons, Fauci went on to say, is also only one of the risks a cold weather baseball season may entail.

"Under most circumstances — but we don't know for sure here — viruses do better when the weather starts to get colder and people start spending more time inside, as opposed to outside," Fauci said. "The community has a greater chance of getting infected. "

Fauci was quick to point out, though, that safety is just one concern among many," Money disputes between players and owners have loomed largest in recent debates over when many professional sports organizations will resume play.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Austin Horn is a 2019-2020 Kroc Fellow. He joined NPR after internships at the San Antonio Express-News and Frankfort State-Journal, as well as a couple stints in the service industry. He aims to keep his reporting grounded in the experience of real individuals of all stripes.