It was only a week or two ago that Major League Baseball and the Players’ Union expressed virtually zero appetite for playing games in front of empty stadiums. How quickly things change, especially when navigating through uncharted waters as we are right now.
According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, MLB and the PA are now focused on a plan that would see the season played in Arizona with closed-door games happening at the Diamondbacks’ Chase Field and a handful of spring training parks. There are plenty of obstacles to work around here, but, apparently, this plan has “the support of high-ranking federal public health officials who believe the league can safely operate amid the coronavirus pandemic.”
If all goes well, the 2020 season could start as early as May.
NEWS: Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are focusing on a plan backed by federal health officials that could have players in training camps by May and games soon thereafter.
Details at ESPN on how MLB may return — and the difficulty in doing so: https://t.co/zDoNa3k4pm
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 7, 2020
Again, there are plenty of logistical issues to iron out as this would be a wildly challenging plan to execute. So far, MLB has discussed playing seven-inning games, expanding rosters, having players sit in the stands six feet apart rather than cramming the dugouts, implementing an electronic strike zone so the home-plate umpire can stand further away from the plate, and restricting pitcher visits from the catcher and bullpen coach.
Players would have to give the thumbs-up to essentially living in a bubble for a few months while the season is played because one player contracting the disease would put the whole operation up in flames. Also, from an economic standpoint, MLB would need to figure out how to handle the TV revenue generated from these games in a fair way as teams wouldn’t be making any money at the gates.
At the end of the day, though, for MLB and the players, weird, dystopian, quarantine baseball is better than no baseball at all. The logistics of this are insane, but there’s no doubt that they’re going to do everything that they can to get the season going.
Over in the United Kingdom, there’s apparently a plan to get the Premier League started behind closed doors in the summer. They’re working on a World Cup-style TV event in which there are games every day played at neutral locations in the midlands. It’s pretty much the same idea as the one MLB is working on right now.
Whether it’s a good idea or not, plans to get sports started again will certainly see support from the government because sport is a powerful tool for soothing the public during difficult times. Think back to George Bush throwing out the first pitch at Shea Stadium shortly after 9/11.
It is this aspect that has drawn increased government backing, too, as they like the idea of the population engrossed in the national sport, especially in the event that lockdown measures are tightened or extended. – The Independent
What better way to pretend things are normal than to have America’s pastime on in the background.