The field at newly named Day Air Ballpark downtown is mostly emerald green and neatly manicured daily by new groundskeeper Taylor Balhoff, but there is no game tonight, and not just because the Dayton Dragons were scheduled to be on the road at Great Lakes.
COVID-19 has wiped out sports and for minor league baseball, it was the second part of a double whammy that started with major league baseball’s intention to contract the number of minor league teams from 160 to about 120 for the 2021 season.
While the Dragons were never on the contraction list (Midwest League teams Burlington and Clinton are) following 20 seasons of selling out every game as a Reds’ low-A affiliate, season No. 21 might have to wait until next spring.
“I’m always going to be an optimist,” Dragons President Bob Murphy said as Ohio businesses began to re-open this week. “I don’t have the liberty to not plan for (this season). We can’t be surprised by anything.
“You never know. In the pandemic world, every day is like three. One week is 21 days. The information changes so quickly.”
While Murphy would not address his team’s financial situation – including if it had to lay off or furlough some of the about 40 full-time employees – he did say contingent plans had to be made not only for this season, but next.
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“We are waiting to hear what’s going on with major league baseball, minor league baseball, the Midwest League,” Murphy said. “It’s a very complex situation.
“You have different states in our league that are in different stages of recovery. We are right now weighing out contingency plan after contingency plan after contingency plan.
“We are going to need our fans to be patient and understanding during this time. We are going to work very closely with our corporate partners to make sure we have Dayton Dragons baseball in Dayton for many years.”
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Midwest League President Richard Nussbaum said while he hopes to have all 16 of his teams in operation next summer, an exact number is up for speculation as well as the possibility some of the teams might operate without an affiliation.
As for this season, “our clubs are planning for all contingencies,” Nussbaum said. “If we do play games, we’ll be ready.”
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