I’ll elaborate obviously, but here is the idea in short; All games played in Arizona’s empty ballparks, players and staff would go nowhere but park and hotel. Players would be isolated from family for up to 4 and a half months. This would be until the country gets an ok to go back to at least close to normal.
Well, I suppose I have to come down on one side or the other, don’t I? Initially, I hate it. I mean really hate it. Now, forcing myself to have an open mind, weighing the alternatives, let me take a closer look, ask some questions and see if I can’t change my own mind by writing this column.
Ok, first thing to do is help my mind open. Hate was probably a strong word to use and if I hold onto it this process won’t work. I’ll go with greatly dislike, yeah that’s the ticket.
Something this idea provided that was not included in any previous thoughts on how to restart the sport was the apparent involvement, or at least exploratory acceptance of the theory from the CDC. If the doctors think it could work and the players are ok with those isolation stipulations, who am I to say no? I personally think that’s a bit much to ask but hey, that’s up to the players.
Another question I had initially was, why Arizona? Looking into it a bit more there are about 10 Spring Training sites within approximately a 50-mile radius of Chase Field unlike Florida which is more spread out. I suppose I get this but doesn’t this sound like something that would work well for an abbreviated Spring Tune Up we’ll call it.
Yeah, look, I’m not going to end up liking this idea. I’m trying too hard to make it work in my head here.
I’m already asking too many questions about an idea. An idea that has a long way to go before anything even based on it would come to fruition. I can’t see how the Minor Leagues would be handled. And before you say we don’t need them, MLB will just have to be enough, think for a second of the repercussions of having no active Minor League system. You’d have to at least construct the MLB club with 30 roster spots and a ten-team travel squad for lack of a better way of saying it, to account for injury or even illness. They’d also have to devise a method for keeping them sharp, can’t just have pitchers sitting around then be ready the next day. Development halts and creates a mess. I’m not even going to try to wrap my head around whether these travel players would get MLB service time or pay.
No, I just can’t see a way around that one. Try as I might, I can’t get there on the issue. Only thing I can go with, and it’s a huge stretch, they’d have to mirror this set-up in another area for AAA. That wouldn’t fix all the issues as you’d still lose development in the lower tiers but at least the system has a chance to function slightly less bastardized. Like I said, a stretch, but if this was added into the conversation, they’d have my attention.
Now we get into the worst part believe it or not, the politics, or the optics, whatever you like to go with they all mean the same. These are the things that really have no place in the conversation but worm their way in anyhow. In fact, just about the greatest service MLB could do for our country would be to give us something new to discuss rather than politics. Matt Capps, on live Monday night on the Bucs In the Basement Podcast said as much. Those are fights people don’t get over.
I’ve already seen takes that this would take precious tests away from people who need them, increasing the danger to the general population. Um, no. First, this isn’t supposed to happen this Friday. They’re talking May, still over a month from now. The quick test systems are now designed, tested and in manufacturing. They are being used in the field. I come from a manufacturing background, once that hurdle is achieved, making as many as we want will happen, quickly. Again, you can “greatly dislike” this idea, but this ain’t it. I’ve also heard they don’t need tested as the players aren’t part of the high-risk community. Well, many coaches are first of all, and again I firmly believe none of this happens unless widespread testing is already pretty damn prevalent in the country.
At the end of the day, my major takeaway is this, Baseball has no will to skip this season. They may very well be forced to, but the willingness to go to extremes to play some semblance of a 2020 baseball season is there, from both sides and apparently the government bodies who will have to bless it in the end.
I also think we can expect many more of these “ideas” for two main reasons. The first being they do want to see what the public thinks of their proposals. Think of these reports as one giant focus group. I’d suggest they don’t plumb the depths of poison social media has become to gauge it but I’m sure that’s part of the puzzle. The other is there is a real hunger for sports in the country. Sure, some feel they don’t matter, or they don’t miss them, but people have connected baseball and other sports to recovery of American life for generations. This will be no different except this time there won’t be any shots of fans crying at the sight of an iconic first pitch. No roar of the crowd as the first players hit that patterned turf while the organ blares. Instead it could be a deafening echo of hand claps in the dugout and instruction being screamed from the steps.
When this idea evolves or the next idea presents itself, I’ll cover it. None of this is to be ignored, and it certainly gets us having conversations. Just try not to take it as gospel, its kinda the first draft.