Mitch McConnell Told MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred 'America Needs Baseball'

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMay 1, 2020

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred answers questions at a press conference during MLB baseball owners meetings, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
John Raoux/Associated Press

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell went on The Last Call w/ Drew Deener & Jason Nemes on 93.9 The Ville Radio and relayed a conversation he had with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, telling him that "America needs baseball."

"I called the commissioner of baseball a couple weeks ago and said, 'America needs baseball. It's a sign of getting back to normal. Any chance?,'" McConnell asked (via Gabe Lacques of USA Today).

"As you may have heard, there is discussion about having an abbreviated season beginning around the Fourth of July where teams would either play in their spring training sites in Arizona or Florida or play at home to largely empty stadiums. There's an active discussion underway to salvage part of baseball season."

The Republican from Kentucky added the following:

"If we can salvage part of baseball, surely we can salvage football, as well. I think the country needs sports. We've all missed that during the pandemic and the sooner we can get at least some of our sports—and I think the one eligible to begin first, would be baseball—it'd be a great morale-booster for the country and an indication that we are going to begin to get back to normal."

Hope for an MLB return has sprung this week, with numerous reporters expressing cautious optimism about a 2020 debut in the summer.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic said MLB is looking toward a range between mid-June and July 4 for its Opening Day, and Jon Heyman of WFAN and MLB Network said the league is focusing on early July for its start.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today also echoed the early July return date and said the league is considering a three-division format for 2020 in which three groups of 10 would be split geographically to limit travel between home stadiums; those games would not have fans in attendance.

And ESPN's Jeff Passan even spoke about when the season "will" return, writing the following on April 27: "Over the past two weeks, as states have begun to plan their reopenings, nearly everyone along the decision-making continuum—league officials, players, union leaders, owners, doctors, politicians, TV power brokers, team executives—has grown increasingly optimistic that there will be baseball this year."

A 162-game season appears impossible with the season potentially starting over three months late, but Nightengale reported that sources believe a campaign of 100 or more games is feasible.

Other sports have announced their returns, albeit without spectators.

UFC 249 will take place in Jacksonville, Florida, on May 9, and NASCAR's Cup Series will begin again on May 17 in Darlington, South Carolina. The PGA Tour will pick up its schedule on June 11 in Fort Worth, Texas.