Saw a lot of discussion yesterday about my decision not to head to Arizona this year, and I was impressed at how respectful it was, despite it being one of those topics potentially tinged by strong reactions. It *IS* possible on the internet! Huzzah. As for the decision, itself, I’ll elaborate on my initial explanation for the purposes of furthering thoughtful public discourse: my concerns are primarily about getting stuck somewhere thousands of miles from home for two weeks because of a quarantine situation. Highly unlikely? No doubt. High gravity of problem if it happened? Yes. We have three kiddos, the youngest of whom has special needs, and the middle of whom has mental health needs. Our house has a lot of needs right now. I’m not too inclined to apologize for ensuring I won’t get stuck away from them for weeks in the unlikely event something were to happen.
I’m pretty clearly – I think? – not telling anyone else what to do with their travel, or registering any level of panic outside certain logistical possibilities.
- Oh, speaking of which, the NBA has started the process of preparing for the POSSIBILITY of empty stadiums, and it’s a fair bet that MLB will be in on these conversations, too:
Sources: The NBA has sent a memo to its franchises explaining that, due to coronavirus outbreak, teams should be preparing to play games without fans in attendance and identifying “essential staff” present for these games — should it be necessary.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 7, 2020
- Japan has already barred fans from all of its preseason games, and the KBO cancelled their entire preseason. Moreover, the NPB has said its season might now not start on time. The summer Olympics in Tokyo – which are set to finally feature players on MLB 40-man rosters (but not in the big leagues) – might be impacted, and qualifiers have already been postponed. Different geography, obviously, but the sports impact is already being felt around the world.
- I really hope there’s effective containment or whatever in the US by the time Opening Day rolls around, but in some pockets of the country, it’s pretty hard to imagine that being the case in under three weeks. If the Mariners had a home game right now, what would attendance be like, I wonder? The ramifications of aggressive steps like this around the league would be absolutely enormous financially for MLB, and right when they’re trying to negotiate a new CBA. I’m sure none of the leagues want to have to go this route, but they’ve gotta be prepared in case a public health authority issues a demand or something.
- Interesting comment from Jon Lester about his successful outing yesterday, and about Spring Training starts in general, where you don’t get scouting reports in advance of the game (Cubs.com): “When you’re younger, you don’t care so much about scouting reports. I know it’s Spring Training. I know we always say we don’t care about the results. But, at the end of the day, I don’t want to give up hits or runs. And a guy like me right now, I need that information.” The guy is just a ridiculous competitor.
- Ben Zobrist isn’t going to play baseball this year, though he hasn’t quite officially done the retirement thing. The nice thing, though, is he’s looking for a way to stay tapped into the Cubs, which is awesome:
Ben Zobrist chatted with reporters briefly today outside the ballpark. Said his sole focus right now is his family. Not officially retired, but has no plans of playing this season. Has been reconnecting with team this week behind scenes. Wants to keep relationship with org going.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) March 6, 2020
- I bet David Ross, like Joe Maddon, is pretty good at this part of the job, which was wholly new for him as of yesterday: informing players they’ve been cut from big league camp. “That’s part of this job that nobody really thinks about or talks about,” Ross told Cubs.com. “I take it as being able to give some honest feedback with guys, of what you expect from them and what you need for them to see them in Chicago this year, really. If the goal is to win championships, it takes more than the 26 that we’re going to break camp with. I’ve been a part of that. I know that there’s always a guy that impacts a team that you’re not expecting this time of year, or even to break camp early on. So, having those conversations with those guys, I think, empowers them to go and work on what they need to get better at.”
- This is a great read on the broad mandate coming from MLB to enforce more of its own rules, and how that wound up turning into something of an investigation of how magic sticky stuff was reaching pitchers by way of Anaheim:
— Yahoo Sports MLB (@MLByahoosports) March 7, 2020
- Among the bits in there: “In the course of that very broad pursuit of a more honest game, baseball officials heard more than once about the stuff being produced — and sold — out of the visitors’ clubhouse in Anaheim, among two or three other places. They called Angels management …. Harkins is suspected by Major League Baseball and the Angels of concocting and distributing a signature mix of pine tar and rosin designed to improve pitchers’ grips on the baseball and be undetectable, sources said Friday. Pitchers came to swear by it. Some, according to a source, received batches in the mail.”
- This ends today, so heads up (everything is 20%, and this deal is even better than that):
FOLKS. I just discovered that the @obvious_shirts Mystery Box is part of the big BASEBALL20 sale, except it's actually even more than 20% off. By my math, you're getting three Cubs shirts for basically half price. And free shipping.
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) March 6, 2020