The pandemic has officially forced the MINK League's hand.
League commissioner Ron Rodriguez informed member teams Wednesday that the MINK's 2020 baseball season has been canceled due to ongoing uncertainties resulting from COVID-19. The decision comes less than a month after the league announced its intention to postpone the start of the season to July 1.
"It just became too much to try to keep our communities, host families, players, coaches and officials in an environment that we could guarantee their safety," Rodriguez said. "I don't think they've figured it out yet at the MLB level, and it's just an issue we haven't come across yet ourselves.
"I don't think there's a standardized, across-the-board idea for starting the season, and we've just run out of time. There are too many questions that haven't been answered yet."
Rodriguez said he consulted with each team's general manager before the decision to cancel the season was made. Three teams – the Chillicothe Mudcats, Clinton Creatures and Jefferson City Renegades – had opted to forego the 2020 season in late April, which left the league with six teams in 2020, including the Joplin Outlaws and Nevada Griffons.
"They had input and we all talked," Rodriguez said. "For the most part, we all came to the same understanding that the best thing is to keep our communities safe. We want to make that our highest priority."
"I'm disappointed, but with the uncertainty surrounding everyone's safety, it's just the best thing for everybody," said Mark Rains, Joplin Outlaws president and general manager. "It's just disappointing, but we couldn't find another alternative."
Rains cited his concerns about trying to fit an entire season into the month of July.
"The season would have needed to end by the end of July so that the players could return to school," he said. "That's about four weeks of ball, which is not a lot. We looked at the players' safety since a lot of these kids haven't been playing since March or whatever. That raises concerns about their physical shape, especially with pitchers and their arms.
"We also had a lot of kids planning to come in from all over the United States. Who knows if it would have been worth it for them to come in for four weeks. It's just unfortunate about the virus, but it's better to side on the side of safety."
The MINK League plans to return to play in 2021.