Editor’s note: With our coronavirus coverage, our goal is not to alarm you but to equip you with the information you need. We will try to keep things in context and focus on helping you make decisions. See a list of resources and frequently asked questions at the end of this story.
CINCINNATI - Two weeks before Opening Day, Major League Baseball announced Thursday that it will delay the start of the 2020 season for at least two weeks and determine later when it's best to begin play in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
That means no Opening Day game on March 26 and it could mean the Reds will open out of town when the season gets the green light.
MLB also canceled the rest of spring training games as of 4 p.m. ET Thursday and postponed the 2020 World Baseball Classic Qualifier games in Arizona.
The Reds addressed questions about ticket refunds in a statement on Twitter. It said:
"The Reds will work with season-ticket members, suite holders, groups and single-game ticket buyers regarding a credit for the affected games that could be used for Reds 2020 regular-season games, 2020 Postseason games (if applicable) or 2021 ticket purchases. Single-game ticket buyers who purchased tickets for canceled Spring Training games directly through the Reds will receive a refund. We will communicate additional details to al ticket buyers by April 3, 2020."
Statement from the Cincinnati Reds: pic.twitter.com/zC7wbx7otN
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) March 12, 2020
"MLB ... will remain flexible as events warrant with the hope of resuming normal operations as soon as possible," a release from Commissioner Rob Manfred's office said.
"This action is being taken in the interests of the safety and well-being of our players, clubs and millions of loyal fans."
About how the schedule might be affected, the release said "MLB and the clubs have been preparing a variety of contingency plans regarding the 2020 regular-season schedule. MLB will announce the effects on the schedule at an appropriate time."
Baseball joined Major League Soccer, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League on the sidelines. All three have suspended their seasons in progress. The NCAA added to the unprecedented actions by canceling March Madness and all other winter and spring championships for this academic year.
Findlay Market had already called off the traditional Opening Day Parade Wednesday night.
It won’t be the first time the major league baseball season didn’t start as scheduled. Over the last 48 years there have been two players' strikes and one owners' lockout that delayed Opening Day. Those happened in 1972, 1990 and 1995.
A strike that started on Aug. 11, 1994 resulted in MLB canceling the World Series that year and continued into the following season until it was settled on April 25. Reds fans have pained memories of the 1994 strike because the Reds were in first place in the National League Central Division when the strike took place. The Reds came back to win the division title in 1995.
Long-time Reds fans also remember the two-month midseason strike in 1981. It lasted from June 11 until Aug. 10 and wiped out more than 50 games. It hurt the Reds the most because they finished with the best record in baseball (66-42) but didn't make the playoffs because MLB decided to name division champions for each half of the season. The Reds finished one-half game behind the Dodgers before the strike and 1 1/2 games behind the Astros after it.
And it wouldn't be the first time the Reds opened on the road, although Baseball still schedules an Opening Day home game for the Reds in honor of their distinction as the first professional baseball team.
Weather interfered in 1966 when the Reds opener was rained out three days in a row, and the team started the season in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. They were 1-5 when they finally celebrated Opening Day with a parade ending at Crosley Field on April 21.
In 1990, the year the Reds went wire to wire and won the World Series, team owners locked players out of spring training in a labor dispute and delayed the season. Instead of opening here, the Reds went on the road and won seven straight in Houston and Atlanta before coming home on April 17.
Coronavirus worries have disrupted sports schedules from pros to colleges to high school to horse racing. Many states including Ohio and Kentucky have suspended or canceled their high school tournaments. No spectators will be allowed for the Jeff Ruby Stakes, a Kentucky Derby prep race Saturday at Turfway Park. Keeneland has canceled its sales and will run all races without spectators.
Find more coronavirus/COVID-19 hotlines and resources below:
- Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 833-4-ASK-ODH
- See ODH’s COVID-19 resources here.
- State COVID-19 hotline: 1-800-722-5725
- See the Cabinet for Health and Family Services coronavirus resource site here.
- SDH Epidemiology Resource Center: (317) 233-7125 or (317) 233-1325 after hours, or e-mail email@example.com
- See more information for coronavirus in Indiana here.
What is coronavirus, COVID-19?
According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are "a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
A novel coronavirus, such as COVID-19, is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in 37 locations across the globe, including in the U.S., according to the CDC.
The CDC reports the initial patients in China have some link to a large seafood and live animal market, indicative of animal-to-person spread. A growing number of patients, however, did not report exposure to animal markets, indicating the disease is spreading person-to-person.
What are the symptoms? How does it spread?
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death, according to the CDC. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath.
The CDC said symptoms could appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. It is similar to the incubation period for MERS.
Spread of the virus is thought to be mainly from person-to-person. Spread is between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Spread occurs via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
According to the CDC, it could be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, the CDC said.
The disease is most contagious when people are the sickest and showing the most symptoms.