The Everett AquaSox don’t start play until mid-June and general manager Danny Tetzlaff said he’s hopeful the Northwest League baseball season can open on time.
But with the response to the new coronavirus pandemic changing seemingly every minute, Tetzlaff said he understands that might not be the case.
“Just like anyone, we’re keeping an eye on things and hoping for the best if everyone is doing what the experts are telling us to do,” Tetzlaff said. “But I’m also realistic. Major League Baseball is going to be focused on getting Major League Baseball up and running, if that’s a possibility, and they’ll get everyone else going after that.”
On Monday, MLB announced that opening day — originally scheduled for next week — would be delayed in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control’s recommendation of no gatherings of 50 people or more for eight weeks.
Due to the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, the AquaSox have stopped actively pursuing season-ticket and group sales for the 2020 season, Tetzlaff said. They’ve also been in contact with those who have already purchased tickets to assure them they will be compensated if games are postponed or canceled. Single-game tickets had not yet gone on sale.
The uncertainty has put a damper on the team’s bottom line. The spring months are an important selling time for the team’s sales staff.
“Has our business been affected? Absolutely,” Tetzlaff said. “(Even) if this gets … better, I don’t see us recovering 100 percent, that’s for sure.”
But all of that is secondary to the seriousness of the situation, he said.
“We’re concerned about the community, more so than anything else,” Tetzlaff said. “On the business side, yeah, it’s affected us, but our No. 1 priority is the community is safe and healthy. Baseball will be here when we’re ready for it.”
Spring training, including minor-league spring training, was shut down last week in both Arizona and Florida.
Minor League Baseball has not released a statement on the matter since last Friday. At that time, MiLB president Pat O’Connor said the organization would “monitor the developments and follow guidelines set forth by public health agencies and our partners at Major League Baseball.”
In a related development, MLB is considering skipping the 2020 June draft, according to a report from the Associated Press. The draft is a major source of players for the AquaSox and the other teams in the NWL.
The AquaSox have not yet developed a contingency plan in case the season is delayed.
“It’s a little early for that,” Tetzlaff said. “People are talking, we’re throwing around some ideas, but there’s been nothing concrete on things like that. We’re prepared for just about any outcome here in Everett. Anything, we’re at least giving it some thought. We’ll hopefully, when we move forward, not be reacting but we’ll be ready for any changes when they come down the pike.”
As currently constituted, the NWL schedule calls for a 76-game regular season played over 82 days. The two divisions, the North and the South, each crown a first-half and a second-half champion. Those four teams advance to the playoffs.
The NWL season is set to begin June 16. Everett’s home opener is scheduled for June 22 against the Vancouver Canadians.