MLB welcomes back fans after a dark year of COVID-19

by Brayden Laslo, Staff Writer

The following story was written by a student on the staff of The Jaguar Times as part of Hilliard Bradley High School’s Journalism Production course.

Baseball is doing its best to get things back to normal, restoring the 162-game season and starting the year with fans in the stands of every stadium. Some policies set by Major League Baseball are locked in at every park, like fans being required to wear masks, but the policies diverge based on the rules in the city or state where the game is being played. Nothing, however, is set in stone, as the rules could be tightened or relaxed based on how things are going in terms of COVID-19. Anthony S. Fauci, the United States government’s top infectious disease expert, said in a recent interview with “Face the Nation” that he expected the restrictions to lessen as the season progressed. Teams like the Rangers and a few others are allowing 100% capacity this season despite virus concerns.

The Jaguar Times took some time to interview fellow Jags and get their thoughts on having fans in the stands this MLB season. Mr. Beavers said, “I think that it’s great to have fans back this season and having a somewhat normal baseball environment and season!” It’s very true that having fans at games makes the experience better not only for the players but for the revenue of the league as well. Scott Caudill (11) said, “I’d love to get to some games this season and get to see some new stadiums by the end of this summer”. Seeing a new ballpark is like Christmas Day when you are so excited , and don’t know what to expect, but when you see it you’re amazed.

Last season, all regular-season games and most postseason contests were played in front of empty stands. During the National League Championship Series and World Series, both held at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, fans were allowed to attend in limited numbers representing about 28% of the stadium's full capacity. But there will be limitations, particularly when it comes to capacity, that won't be uniform across the league. State and local governments will have a lot of say in determining how many fans can safely attend live sporting events (if any), figures that have already been changing frequently with fluctuations in the spread of COVID-19 and vaccination rates.

Opening Day of the 2021 season arrived on April 1, with 26 of the 30 teams taking the field and producing an action-packed day of baseball that included a number of thrilling moments. Two more teams, the Red Sox and Orioles, were rained out but began their season on April 2. The opening series between the Nationals and Mets was postponed due to positive COVID-19 tests. Last year, the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic shut down Spring Training in mid-March and delayed Opening Day. The 2020 season did not begin until late July, and teams played a 60-game schedule, adhering to MLB's strict COVID rules. They then embarked upon an expanded postseason, with the field being widened from 10 teams to 16. It's awesome to have baseball back, and have fans at games!