Countless unknowns surround the MLB season

Dodger+Stadium+sits+empty+in+Los+Angeles+on+March+25%2C+2020.+

Photo Courtesy of Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/TNS

Dodger Stadium sits empty in Los Angeles on March 25, 2020.

By Rich Eberwein, Staff Writer

Many people, including myself, are clinging to the possibility of Major League Baseball getting underway sometime in the near future. For this to happen, there are several issues that need to be evaluated extensively to ensure safety and minimize complications. With that being said, managing expectations is important in a time like this. Nothing is certain as of now.

Proposed season

At this point, if a season happens there will likely be around 80 to 100 games played. The traditional 162 games would be a stretch even if the World Series were played around Christmas, like sports agent Scott Boras suggested. What nobody knows is how the plan would unfold to hold baseball games. The MLB is currently sorting through countless variables and scenarios to make sense of this complex situation that is theorized to be solved around mid-June or early July.

These variables include splitting teams into new divisions based on their spring training leagues — the Cactus League in Arizona and the Grapefruit League in Florida. Such a system could see teams like the Chicago Cubs and the Oakland Athletics being division rivals in 2020, a strange idea indeed.

Whenever the season begins, players and coaches would need to be notified in advance to make arrangements for their families and get their bodies in shape for the season. At that point, who knows if spring training games would be held. On one hand, pitchers would have to be stretched out all over again before they are ready to throw 100 pitches every five days. On the other hand, teams will be eager to get competitions underway as soon as possible to make up for the loss of revenue that came with the season’s delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Roster expansion could help ease teams, especially their pitching staffs, into a quick start to the season, but then that brings up the issue of having even more people in the ballpark.

    Subscribe to our sports newsletter!

    Will this be safe?

    Even if plans are put into motion for a baseball season, will it be safe amid the pandemic? The answer lies in how many resources can and will be directed toward an MLB season. There would have to be an enormous number of tests and masks to make the entire operation possible. According to the CDC, 21% of all COVID-19 tests in the U.S. are positive. With states already not testing enough, should we really be diverting essential supplies for something as nonessential as baseball games while the amount of deaths in the U.S. just topped 60,000? According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a sports season is possible but incredibly hard to accomplish and could lead to setbacks in the fight against the coronavirus.

    “If we let our desire to prematurely get back to normal, we can only get ourselves right back in the same hole we were in a few weeks ago,” Fauci said. “I would love to be able to have all sports back, but as a health official and a physician and a scientist, I have to say when you look at the country, we’re not ready for that yet.”

    The idea has been floated to have players quarantined in hotels and only transported to stadiums and back during a hypothetical season. Even without fans, and some teams want to have a small number of fans during games, there would still need to be hundreds of people inside the ballpark at a given time, coaches, staff, trainers, umpires, etc. Every one of those people would have to be tested on a regular basis in addition to the hotel staff.

    If the tests were available, it’s important to remember that baseball players are people, too. Having to quarantine inside a hotel room and only leaving to get a swab shoved in your nose to go to work is a less than satisfactory existence, especially when they are doing all of this while separated from their families. Not to mention, what would the procedure be if someone failed a test? Everyone would have to be highly monitored so they can trace how the person got infected, which could be anyone from superstar Mike Trout to umpire Joe West. It doesn’t matter who, but if a failed test appears, the rest of the individuals involved would presumably have to get tested before another game is held.  This virus spreads fast, and it would be a heck of a feat if this was pulled off without unnecessary infections, which is highly unlikely.

    There are many uncertainties and risks that aren’t worth the trouble at this stage in the pandemic. Nobody wants to see a baseball game played more than myself. However, the lives of people and the containment of this disease is more important than watching America’s Pastime.

    @ebs_rich 

    [email protected]