Sometimes, the headline on an article, or the tease that accompanies a tweet, is a little too forceful.
I wondered if that was the case when I saw Buster Olney share the latest from his colleague, Jeff Passan. Because it was very forceful:
Jeff Passan's 20 questions: There will be MLB in 2020. It's just a matter of when, where and how https://t.co/651O1Lv3RC
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) April 27, 2020
There will be baseball this year. Full stop. Does Passan really say that? And if so, what’s he basing it on? Just the same optimism we were hearing last week from Commissioner Manfred, Scott Boras, Mike Rizzo, and Dr. Fauci?
Yes to the first question, and only kinda yes to the rest. But Passan, someone who works for an MLB broadcast partner, is the first to say, yes, it’s happening:
“The MLB season should have turned one month old Sunday. Rather than lament that, let’s instead fill the emptiness with a discussion about when the season will start.
Yes, will. Over the past two weeks, as states have begun to plan their reopenings, nearly everyone along the decision-making continuum — league officials, players, union leaders, owners, doctors, politicians, TV power brokers, team executives — has grown increasingly optimistic that there will be baseball this year.”
Bold. Naturally, Passan follows with an article that is all about the questions of *how* baseball will return, but he makes no bones about it. Baseball is coming back, according to Passan.
Of course, the reason I used the “kinda yes” up there is because the predicate for Passan’s confidence appears to be the same optimism we’d already been hearing about. That said, he’s got tons of sources at all layers of the game, and I’m thinking he doesn’t drop an “it’s happening” opener to his article unless he’s hearing from all of them that it’s going to happen.
We still don’t know the precise timeline or locations or the money share (remember, these are going to be fan-free games, and the economics are tricky). But, according to Passan (and, well, logically evaluating the situation based on the information we have), you’d look for the league to get a plan in place by the end of May, with negotiations on the finances/particulars with the players to take place around that same time. Then you’d have Spring Training Part Two taking place in June, and the games beginning in July (whether they are solely in Arizona, or located at several hubs around the country).
From where I sit, that remains at least plausible. July is over two months away, and long past the peak cases in all states, plus another long stretch of time to conceivably reach the “testing and tracing” phase of secondary outbreaks. I’ll still be tracking testing volume here in the US before I share in too much of the optimism, but there you go.