I don’t want to reinvent the wheel here, and with respect to MLB’s contingency plan – which was only ever in the early stages of rough discussion – to stage the opening of its season (and maybe much longer) entirely in Arizona with teams quarantined, I have thoughts after digesting for a day.
Basically, I want to leave it at this thread, for my part, and then just share some additional reaction/information from around baseball:
That was never the report. Instead, the Arizona Plan involved games some six weeks from now. Or two months from now. Or later.
Dump on the plan if/when in motion & clearly unsafe? Yes!
Dump on the plan as though you know what the world will look like in six+ weeks? Nonsense.
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) April 8, 2020
From there, of course, anyone who wants to talk about logistical hurdles, the backdrop of the national situation/projections, etc., great. I think that's interesting & important, & can be compassionate.
I think we all, for the most part, have good intentions. Much love.
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) April 8, 2020
I don’t know if the plan can work. The details aren’t even there yet. We’re still over a month away. And on and on. Let it play out a little bit. That’s all I’m saying.
- To that end, Ken Rosenthal writes about how the plan has received support from some federal agencies, some of whom seem to believe widespread testing will indeed be available next month (grain of salt necessary when you consider why the federal government would be particularly incentivized right now to want more “normal” things to come back on line sooner rather than later). I’ve been beating that drum for a long time: you can’t seriously consider sports returning, even without fans, until widespread rapid testing is available, but if it TRULY is going to be widely available next month, then yes, I start to see the Arizona Plan become tremendously more realistic. (June still feels more plausible than May, though, when you see the latest modeling.)
- One big issue for the plan, even after you get past the significant health concerns, is going to come down to economics. The reality of playing games in empty stadiums – and probably not in prime time – is that they will not generate near as much revenue as games typically would. So … should players take even less money? Or should owners eat that loss? And if owners are asked to eat the loss, how many of them dig in their heels and simply say they won’t go for the Arizona Plan?
- What does social distancing look like on the baseball field, by the way? Can players literally not get within six feet of each other? That’s … not possible. You can take some measures to reduce it (robo umps, mandate fielder separation, etc.), but players come together constantly throughout a game. So that’s gonna have to be part of the deal.
- For more logistical issues about the plan, consider this FanGraphs write-up, which touches on really practical things you might not have considered. Like, can you transport players on charter buses when you could safely put only 10 players on each bus? Can you deliver enough food consistently to everyone who is part of the quarantine (literally thousands of people)? Can you quarantine all the non-baseball service workers that would be necessary to pull this off? I don’t think these questions are unanswerable or deal-breakers, but it does remind you how much has to be considered that goes far, far beyond whether the league and the players even want to do it.
- To that end, yes, you’re going to find lots of player quotes out there this week from guys who are willing to play whatever the circumstances, so long as it is safe for them and their families. This is their life’s passion. It is their annual focus. It is their livelihood (we still think players getting paid is a good thing, right?). I would bet the majority of pro baseball players would do whatever it takes to start playing baseball. But they really do deserve to have their safety protected, and also to respect their wishes about being away from their families, if that is required.
One vet player on latest MLB idea to play: "Leaving the family would be a big issue for me personally. Something we would have to discuss as a family."
Another vet: "I'd take a high school field at this point."
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) April 7, 2020
- Much more player perspective here:
The Arizona Plan is, depending on your perspective, a ray of light during a moment of national disillusionment or a dystopian experiment with harrowing downsides.
We talked to a bunch of players about it.
“I think it will be really hard to pull off."https://t.co/QhwF6zHowP
— Andy McCullough (@ByMcCullough) April 8, 2020
- The more I read, even as I’m typing this out now, I think about the spiderweb of impact that not having baseball would have on regular folks. It’s easy to think about the players, but teams are huge businesses that employ a whole lot of regular people – if they get crushed this year by no baseball, there will be significant layoffs (the teams in California already filed notice that it could be coming). All the regional TV networks that have no games would be crushed – they, too, employ a lot of regular folks who would wind up furloughed or laid off. I could keep going. Safety is still the priority here, but I get a little chapped when I see people acting like “oh, bah, take a year off from baseball, it’s not the worst thing in the world” – there are literally thousands of working people who could have their lives completely transformed by whether there is some version of baseball this year or none at all.