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Midday on Sports: It's Opening Day for MLB, But Will The Fans Come?

Wikimedia Commons
Baltimore's Orioles Park in happier times. The Orioles play their opener against the Red Sox in Boston tomorrow. Both teams will play again here on April 8.

MLB is welcoming limited crowds back for its 2021 season, but will COVID-wary fans brave the games?

It’s chilly and windy and rainy and yucky in much of the listening area today, but believe it or not, spring sprang nearly two weeks ago. Temperatures will be in the 20s tonight, but there are signs that winter is making an exit: today is opening day for Major League Baseball. The Baltimore Orioles are at Fenway Park to play the Boston Red Sox. First pitch is at 2:10 this afternoon. The Os play for the first time at Camden Yards next Thursday, when the Red Sox travel here.

Even before the pandemic, baseball lagged behind football and basketball in popularity. And Orioles fans have stayed away in droves for the past few seasons. As the team embarks on year three of its rebuilding program, with COVID by no means in the rear-view mirror, will fans show up to games this season?

When the Texas Rangers played an exhibition game at Arlington Stadium Monday, the team allowed more than 40,000 people inside the park. Fewer than 13,000 took them up on their offer.

Ten thousand people will be allowed to be at the Preakness next month. But will people post?

A new Washington Post – University of MD poll published yesterday gauges interest in and willingness to attend sports events.

Today on Midday, it’s Midday on Sports. Tom's guests are:

Mark Hyman, the Director of the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism at the University of Maryland/College Park's Philip Merrill College of Journalism;

and Michael Fletcher, a senior writer at The Undefeated, ESPN’s platform for exploring the intersections of race, sports and culture…

Mark Hyman
Mark Hyman photo ©2020 Richard Anderson; Michael Fletcher courtesy ESPN
Mark Hyman, Director, Povich Ctr. for Sports Journalism at UMd/Merrill College; Michael Fletcher, senior writer for ESPN's The Undefeated

Let us know what you think! Are you planning to catch any Os games this year? Are you a Ravens season ticket holder, and if so, what are your expectations about next season? Are you attending an in-person church service on Easter Sunday? As theaters and music venues re-open, will you go to shows, and are you ready to eat inside at restaurants again? Join us!

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Host, Midday (M-F 12:00-1:00)
Rob is Midday's senior producer.