The Major League Baseball season could reportedly be at risk as coronavirus cases surge in a number of league cities, especially Houston and Phoenix.
As ESPN reported, cases of the virus are rising in 15 of the 27 U.S. markets that have teams, putting new pressure on the league's ability to keep players safe and make it through the duration of the planned 60-game season and playoffs. The report noted that if the surges continue, it could lead to government officials putting new restrictions on public gatherings, which could spell an end to the season.
Some of those new restrictions are already being put in place. In Texas, where the Houston area has seen a dramatic rise in cases, Governor Greg Abbott put new limits on businesses that were allowed to reopen in May, including reducing capacity at restaurants and closing bars. California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered a stay-at-home order for the county adjacent to San Diego amid a surge in cases there, the report noted.
The league issued a statement to ESPN on Friday, saying that the season will only be able to resume when it is deemed safe and that the situation could change depending on whether new restrictions go in place.
"For us, this means that, at a minimum, we will play in a particular location only when we have approval from all relevant governmental authorities," the statement read. "To date, all governmental authorities have been favorably inclined to allow play, at least in empty stadiums, based on our extensive protocols. This situation may change as developments with respect to the virus occur. If and when that happens, we will make adjustments to comply with any change in governmental policy."
The MLB had reportedly cycled through a number of potential possibilities for the season, including plans to play all games at spring training facilities in Arizona and Florida -- two states that are now seeing significant rises in cases. The league ultimately decided to go forward with a shortened season where teams play in their home stadiums.
The MLB is not the only league wrestling with how to return during the global pandemic. The NBA also faces scrutiny for its plans to resume the end of the regular season and playoffs at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. As The Inquisitr reported, league commissioner Adam Silver said on Friday that a significant outbreak of the virus during the season could lead to another stoppage.