(Updated 8/17) Will Opening Day Be In Washington D.C. and Exploring Other Options:
Ethan Semendinger looked into some news about regulations that may have prevent the Washington Nationals from hosting the Yankees for Opening Day in Washington DC. In an 8/17 update, we have learned that the series will continue as scheduled.
Earlier today, Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post tweeted out an article he posted with Dave Shenin about how the Washington Nationals may not be able to host Opening Day in the capitol. This is due to different policies and protocols for the Washington D.C. area, of which the city and health officials will not make exceptions for professional baseball.
The Nationals are unsure if they’ll start the season at Nationals Park due to city coronavirus regulations. They are actively exploring alternate sites (Fredericksburg, Va. or West Palm Beach). Opening Day is in exactly one week. News with @DaveSheinin: https://t.co/zZi0LzdZrA — Jesse Dougherty (@dougherty_jesse) July 16, 2020
Much of this news about a potential change to a playing location comes because of a requirement for all players, coaches, and staffs to have to quarantine for 14 days if exposed to COVID-19. With multiple players on both the Nationals and Yankees having tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of Summer Camp, this would be a problem if tests for players came out positive while in the nations capital while either team would need to be able to travel to meet the schedule demands.
However, in the wake of this, the Washington Nationals have already begun discussing a potential stadium shift to two possible other locations while also trying to fight. No deadline is set for there being an announcement for a new Opening Day location, although with baseball (hopefully) starting just a week away we would hope to hear news soon.
In this piece, we will also look at Nationals Park along with the two other locations the Nationals have discussed (as well as one of our own). Highlighted will be the dimensions of the stadiums, the current COVID-19 rates of the surrounding areas, and estimated probability of that location being picked.
Option 1: Continue to Anticipate Opening Day in Nationals Park (Washington D.C.)
Left Field (337 feet), Left-Center Field (377 feet), Center Field (402 feet), Right-Center Field (370 feet), Right Field (335 feet)
11,026 Confirmed Total Cases at a Rate of 1,570 per 100,000 residents and 384 cases in the past week (8/8 to 8/15)
Probability of Usage:
Likely low if the Washington Nationals and MLB are unable to come up with a system that works and will be accepted by the city health officials.
While Nationals Park would be the preferred location for both the hosting Washington Nationals as they have been using it as their practice grounds and the New York Yankees as it is a ballpark they have some familiarity with. However, given how rates of COVID-19 in the District of Columbia have stayed pretty consistent and as implied by the article, with a seemingly strict enforcement of CDC and their own city guidelines for the virus, it seems as though the option for playing ballgames- even without fans- is becoming very unlikely. It is a shame, but luckily there are other working (although not preferred) options.
Option 2: Move Locations to the Washington Nationals Single-A New Fredericksburg Ballpark (Fredericksburg, VA)
73,527 Confirmed Total Cases at a Rate of 988 per 100,000 residents and 24 cases in the past week (8/8 to 8/15)
Probability of Usage:
Likely high if the Washington Nationals and MLB are unable to come up with a system that works and will be accepted by the city health officials for Nationals Park.
In my research, including going to the Fredericksburg Nationals official MiLB stadium page, there is no indication about outfield dimensions for the ballpark. Recently built for the 2020 season, the Washington Nationals were planning to open the stadium officially for their Class-A team. They have already been using this location as a place for members of their 60-Man roster to continue to get reps with baseball activities, but with no indication about outfield dimensions this does make it tough to give a true indication about whether or not this would be a preferred location to play. However, the close proximity to the original location of Washington D.C. does play favorably here.
Option 3: Move Locations to the Washington Nationals Spring Training FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches (West Palm Beach, FL)
Left Field (329 feet), Left-Center Field (389 feet), Center Field (408 feet), Right-Center Field (375 feet), Right Field (330 feet)
301,810 Confirmed Total Cases at a Rate of 1,534 per 100,000 residents and 4,557 cases in the past week (8/8 to 8/15)
Probability of Usage:
Likely very low, even if the Washington Nationals and MLB are unable to come up with a system that works and will be accepted by the city health officials for Nationals Park. The high recent COVID-19 rates make this location a place to avoid.
While the option for moving to the Washington Nationals spring training facility seems to be a viable option on paper, it should pretty much be avoided if the MLB and Washington Nationals are looking to avoid spreading COVID-19. There should be very little surprise of this news with the recent uptick in cases around the state of Florida. The ballpark itself would serve well as a place to play baseball, but unfortunately the current pandemic and climate of Florida in relation to it don’t make this location a place to be desired to move to at all.
Option 4: Move Location to Yankee Stadium III (Bronx, NY)
Left Field (318 feet), Left-Center Field (399 feet), Center Field (408 feet), Right-Center Field (385 feet), Right Field (314 feet)
404,006 Confirmed Total Cases at a Rate of 3,390 per 100,000 residents and 444 cases in the past week (8/8 to 8/15)
Probability of Usage:
Unknown, as it has not yet been a discussed site to play at for the Opening Series.
While the MLB scheduling rules would prefer that the Washington Nationals truly host the New York Yankees for Opening Day, given the pandemic and politics with trying to get approvals for Nationals Park it should not be time for strict enforcement of that rule. A location that is ready to host ballgames, has been used as a site for Summer Camp, and is a familiar location to both teams should be available and in the Bronx, NY.
The MLB could choose to either have the Yankees be the new hosts for the season and try to resolve the extra two home games later in the schedule, or they could even set them as the visiting team regardless of being the true stadium host.
This isn’t even truly unprecedented as teams have played in stadiums that aren’t their own as a home team, like the Tampa Bay Rays did when hosting the Yankees in 2017 after Hurricane Irma. Unfortunately, the MLB would not have the easy option of using Citi Field as a neutral-site as the New York Mets are scheduled to host the Atlanta Braves from 8/24 to 8/26.
What Do You Think?
With many questions going around how viable the MLB season is, what are your thoughts about locations to play baseball for this season? Would you like to see the MLB push to make Nationals Park a viable option or would you prefer to see them look into another option, discussed above or not? How about the Yankees playing as potential visitors in their own ballpark if it came down to that?
Friday July 17th Update:
Earlier today, we received some logistical good news!
Ken Rosenthal tweeted out that the Washington Nationals have been cleared to have the Opening Series take place at their home ballpark, Nationals Park, in Washington D.C.
6 more days until baseball is back!
Article by: Ethan Semendinger
Publish Date: July 16th, 2020; Updated on July 17th, 2020