We are now on day 10 since we last saw the Yankees take the field at George M. Steinbrenner Field. We haven’t received any information on when teams can return to play, or even when they can return to practice. If and when they do resume play, the league will have to make plenty of decisions on how to carry on the season. While the after-effects of these decisions are obviously small potatoes compared to the many far more important effects of the global pandemic, they are still worth looking at for baseball fans. Commissioner Rob Manfred and owners across the league will have to make crucial calls, including a tough one regarding fans and tickets.
Tickets and season ticket holders
Once the season is declared safe to continue, will fans be allowed to attend ballgames? Or will teams have their first several games without crowds to play it safe? What about season ticket holders? Will they have to pay for games that didn’t even happen?
To start with the easier question, teams would most likely offer a refund or exchange to those who purchased season tickets. As a reference, the Milwaukee Brewers gave those options to their fans, but they will not offer anything for tickets bought from StubHub or any other secondary market reseller. If someone were to purchase through another seller, they are directed to contact that company for more information. Seems like that could become a bumpy road if different ticket companies have different rules than each other.
In terms of attending games when they resume, I’m not sure anyone could give a definitive answer right now. There’s so much uncertainty and teams may want to play it safe before they allow people in. But then again, no fans means no concession or merchandise sales, which means less money for the ballparks. Stadiums obviously aren’t making any income right now, so money could be a key factor in the decision on whether or not to admit fans into games to start the season.
Fans in the postseason
Let’s jump ahead to some of the postseason rumors that have swirled around. If the season continues to be 162 games and carries later into the calendar year than it normally does, October baseball may not be playoff baseball. Postseason baseball could be in...November? If the Yankees make the playoffs and it’s November in the Bronx, good luck with that. It could be freezing cold and snowing, not exactly optimal baseball weather. With poor weather conditions being considered, rumors have said that the postseason could be played between two teams at a neutral indoor stadium. From both the team and the fan’s perspective, that sounds terrible, if pragmatic.
What would the Yankees be if it weren’t for the “Bronx Zoo?” The Bronx is known for coming alive during the postseason and being notoriously known as a tough stadium to play at if you’re the road team. I can’t imagine an atmosphere in which two teams are fighting for a championship at a neutral site. Picture this: the Yankees and Astros have met again in the ALCS. After all that has come out about Houston this offseason and the rivalry the two teams have built against each other, they get to play in...Tropicana Field? I’ll pass on that. I’d rather the season be shortened than see that unfold, and I think most would agree on that.