Opening day is right around the corner, but MLB teams now have a lot more to worry about than the Astros cheating scandal.

With diagnosed cases of coronavirus slowly spreading across the country (including now in Pennsylvania), there’s been a lot of chatter about how sports leagues are going to respond. The Sixers told their players to do fist bumps in place of high-fives. Two colleges have canceled basketball games ahead of the NCAA March Madness tournament. The International Ice Hockey Federation canceled four under-18 men’s tournaments.

So far, MLB has no plans to cancel or postpone games, but the league has told teams to avoid signing autographs at spring training. And we seem to be a long way off from being forced to take drastic step, like playing games in empty stadiums and arena as they’re doing now in Italy, the worst-hit country in Europe.

The thing is MLB already has an attendance problem, where the number of fans in the seats has dropped every season for the past 12 years (though Phillies attendance was up, thanks to Bryce Harper’s signing). Last year alone regular season attendance dropped across the league by about 1 million fans, thanks to expensive tickets, really bad teams (four had over 100 losses), and excruciatingly long games.

So if attendance is once again down to start the year, coronavirus is probably not to blame.

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