EVERETT — The hope of taking in an Everett AquaSox game this summer, whether in the stands or just on the radio, took a grim turn on Friday.
The Short Season-A Northwest League, of which the AquaSox are a member, announced that the start of the 2020 season has been delayed indefinitely due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In its statement, the league said “its clubs will continue to monitor the situation and work with Major League Baseball affiliates, while following the recommendations of public health officials and adhering to local reopening guidelines. As always, the health and safety of the Northwest League fans, players and staff members is our top priority.”
In a statement of their own, the AquaSox acknowledged that playing games this summer seems like a longshot.
“To address the elephant in the room, we genuinely do not know if there will be a 2020 season. Although there are many signs pointing (to) the season’s cancellation, we respect MiLB and MLB in their decision to exhaust every option before making such a historic announcement.”
The announcements come at a moment when the entire Minor League Baseball landscape could be in flux, with Major League Baseball pushing to reduce the number of affiliated minor-league teams. Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association are also locked in contentious negotiations to determine how the 2020 season will play out at the big-league level amid the pandemic.
The MLB draft took place Wednesday and Thursday this week, but was reduced to just five rounds from the usual 40. It remains unclear exactly how that would affect the AquaSox roster, which is typically assigned a number of drafted prospects. Everett’s roster also typically has a large number of players from international leagues and current travel restrictions could possibly complicate entry into the United States.
The Sox have been members of the Northwest League, which begins play in mid-June each year, since the team debuted as the Everett Giants in 1984. Everett’s 2020 season was originally scheduled to open June 17 with a five-game series on the road against Salem-Keizer. Its home opener was slated for June 22 against Vancouver.
Additionally, the NWL announced that the Northwest League vs. Pioneer League All-Star Game, scheduled for August 4 in Colorado Springs, has been canceled.
“From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for supporting us during this time and appreciating the many elements that go into something so unprecedented,” the AquaSox’s statement said. “We miss baseball. We miss AquaSox baseball. Most of all, we miss you! We are anxiously awaiting the day we can open the gates at Funko Field to welcome you all home and loudly proclaim ‘Play Ball.’”