MLB Can’t Start the Season In May

PHOENIX, AZ – MARCH 29: The Arizona Diamondbacks stand attended for the national anthem prior to the openning day MLB game against the Colorado Rockies at Chase Field on March 29, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

 

Sports fans around the world are bored and are getting restless. When will sports come back? Will there even be any sports played in 2020? How long is all of this going to last? Well waking up this morning we might be getting one sport back sooner than any of us imagined.

 

The latest report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that MLB is looking to start the season as early as May with the help and approval of federal health issues. Well hey that sounds exciting right! Expect when you hear the details, it seems difficult to pull off.

“The plan, sources said, would dictate that all 30 teams play games at stadiums with no fans in the greater Phoenix area, including the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field, 10 spring training facilities and perhaps other nearby fields. Players, coaching staffs and other essential personnel would be sequestered at local hotels, where they would live in relative isolation and travel only to and from the stadium, sources said. Federal officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the National Institutes of Health have been supportive of a plan that would adhere to strict isolation, promote social distancing and allow MLB to become the first professional sport to return.” 

 

Okay so let’s break this all down. First with all the teams heading to Arizona. This is good because you can’t have teams travel like they would normally it just isn’t safe. So keeping all games in one area is the best thing to do if they are going to play at all this season. That I’m totally fine with. Having players and coaches live in isolation, that is going to be a problem. I get why they would need to do so to make sure that everyone is following social distancing rules. But are you really going to convince players to live in isolation away from their families for 4-5 months? Passan notes this in his report and says this is going to be a tough sell to players. I know players want to play, but to try to convince a majority of players in the league to this proposal is going to take a lot of effort.

Second, Passan goes on to write a detail deep into the article that is very problematic.

“Officials do not believe that a positive test alone would necessarily be cause to quarantine an entire team or shut down the season, sources said. The plan could include teams carrying significantly expanded rosters to account for the possibility of players testing positive despite the isolation.”

 

So MLB is just going to have a bunch of minor league players also isolated for 4-5 months in Arizona in the hopes that maybe they play but could very well not and do nothing for all that time. I get the need to have extra players if for example someone goes down with an injury. But what they are describing here is making it so players are disposable. Someone got the coronavirus? Eh just bring in the next guy and hopefully he makes it out alright. Seems a bit cold if you ask me.

Also I understand players, coaches and essential personnel will be quarantined, but what about everyone else? Eireann Dolan, wife of Washington Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle, brought up a point that isn’t being talked about in this plan.

 

There are so many moving parts that go into making a MLB game happen. While it’s great the league is thinking about the safety of players and coaches, they aren’t doing the same with security staff, grounds crews, janitors, hotel workers and so on. None of them are going to be quarantined. What happens if a member of the grounds crew or a security guard tests positive for the coronavirus? Are you still going to play and just “have extra security guards” ready to go? No, those workers aren’t being looked after by Major League Baseball. Plus if you are going have all of these workers (most of them part time) working these games, you better damn well pay them above minimum wage to make it worth it for them to even want to work.

We all want sports to come back as soon as possible. People are getting restless and want some sign things are going to go back to normal. But we are going to be dealing with the coronoavirus for many more months. This isn’t going away anytime soon. With social distancing and following state and federal guidelines, we can flatten the curve and get back to life soon. But May is just too soon for MLB to start up again. Push it to June or July and see what happens. There is a better chance the number of cases will go down then as opposed to May. I get it, sports are a business and MLB is no exception. But the plan laid out right now is just not feasible. We will have sports again soon. There will be crowds and we will get back to that point. But we aren’t going to be there in May.

 

On-Demand