Major League Baseball is worried about starting a season as soon as possible. An idea being floated this week by baseball is to bring about 3,000 players and team officials from across the nation to play an abbreviated season. The proposed plan would take place in Arizona and MLB would basically be quarantining its players for a large portion of the summer, or until some sense of normalcy returns to our society. It would be a made for television season, as there would not be any fans at the various stadiums in Arizona.
I am sure most consider this a great idea. People are thirsting for live sports. I, for one, am looking forward to watching my first MLB game of 2020.
As I began thinking of the possibilities of what is being spoken of, some issues came to mind rather quickly.
I am thinking it could be a public relations nightmare that MLB players would be getting tested over and over again after games, while health care workers and first responders can’t even qualify for a test?
I have to wonder how the actual games would go. Will players who are isolated from the rest of society, sequestered in separate hotels, and playing games in empty stadiums perform at the level we are used to.
From what I have read, everyone would be under quarantine. Travel would only be allowed between ballparks and hotels. Players and personnel have to sit at least six feet from one another. Side thought – Does this mean manager and umpires have to argue six feet away from each other? Family members will not be allowed within the quarantined area.
I am wondering if the games would end up becoming robotic? Would there still be emotion in the game?
As I write this, MLB is waiting to hear back from the players’ association. MLB officials presented the idea on Monday. Thus far, the idea has led to many questions on just how the logistics would work, let alone the quality of play.
One problem will likely be money. The players, by agreeing to sacrifice their health and willingness to be away from their families for months, would want to be paid as close to their full salary as possible. Owners will likely balk at this. Why, you ask? I read that with no fans in the stands, no parking revenue and no concessions, that wipes out about $4 billion of the $10.7 billion in revenue MLB generated last year.
Owners will also lose out on their coveted local TV money since all the games will be played in Arizona. You’re also talking about the loss of corporate sponsorships, and stadium naming rights considering no games are being played at their ballparks.
Speaking of TV. You can’t have every team playing in prime time. And who wants to stay up until 1 a.m. every night if you’re a fan of an East Coast team? A high majority of these games will have to be played at night due to the 110-degree heat in the Phoenix summer months.
Baseball is trying everything to keep its hopes of a 2020 season alive and I applaud their openness to various options. I just hope all precautions are taken and the rush to return to the field does not turn out to be a mistake which could harm individuals, damage the sport, and haunt its leaders forever.