Fauci Says MLB Season Should Be Even Shorter Than What Players, Owners Want

The MLB season is no closer to starting, but Dr. Anthony Fauci is adamant baseball should not be played beyond October this year.

Speaking on Tuesday, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), warned that allowing the season to extend into the fall and winter could represent a significant danger to public because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

"If the question is time, I would try to keep it in the core summer months and end it not with the way we play the World Series, until the end of October when it's cold," he was quoted as saying by the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday.

The end date for the regular season has been a thorny issue in the discussions between the MLB and the MLB Players Association. Opening Day was scheduled for March 26 but was postponed indefinitely as the COVID-19 outbreak ground sports to a halt.

The MLB has repeatedly stated it wants the regular season to end on September 27, due to health concerns and the demand from national TV networks not to have games extend into November, when baseball would overlap with the NFL.

The MLB Players Association, meanwhile, has previously called for the regular season to end in mid-October, with the postseason and the World Series stretching well into November.

Both parties have tabled a series of different proposals over the last couple of months, but progress has been negligible and MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on Monday admitted the threat of ballparks remaining shut this season was very concrete.

"I'm not confident. I think there's real risk, and as long as there's no dialogue, that real risk is going to continue," he told Mike Greenberg on ESPN's The Return of Sports.

Manfred's words marked a significant change of dynamic from last week, when he claimed that the chances of starting a regular season were "100 percent" and that "unequivocally, we are going to play Major League Baseball this year."

Dr. Fauci at White House April 2020
Dr. Anthony Fauci pictured during a daily briefing on the novel coronavirus in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House back on April 6, 2020, in Washington, D.C. Getty Images

The league tabled a new offer on Saturday calling for a 72-game season, guaranteeing 70 percent of the players' pro-rated salaries. The MLBPA's most recent proposal, meanwhile, called for an 89-game regular season, which would end by mid-October.

Fauci, however, suggested the MLB and the players' union should put their differences aside and play the core of the regular season during the summer months.

"Under most circumstances—but we don't know for sure here—viruses do better when the weather starts to get colder and people start spending more time inside, as opposed to outside," he continued.

"The community has a greater chance of getting infected. The likelihood is that, if you stick to the core summer months, you are better off, even though there is no guarantee.

"If you look at the kinds of things that could happen, there's no guarantee of anything. You would want to do it at a time when there isn't the overlap between influenza and the possibility of a fall second wave."

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates that by Wednesday morning almost 2.14 million cases of coronavirus have been reported in the U.S., by far the highest tally of any country in the world.

Almost 117,000 deaths have been recorded in the U.S. and over 583,000 people have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking the outbreak using combined data sources.

More than 443,600 people have died globally since the outbreak of coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan city, in China's central Hubei province, late last year. There have been over 8.1 million confirmed cases globally.

Coronavirus, Statista, Update
The countries with the highest number of COVID-19 cases as of June 17. Statista
Fauci Says MLB Season Should Be Even Shorter Than What Players, Owners Want | Sports