Here in Pennsylvania, Governor Wolf put forth his plan for getting the state back in business. The wording is vague and the details inside are hardly the point. We’ve spent much time on this site and on the podcast talking about MLBs internal struggle to restart operations, but some of their largest stumbling blocks to return could very well be the individual states.
I’m not here for politics, I’m here for baseball, but the subject is going to be tough to avoid as we get deeper into this process. As with any situation like this sides will be taken, half will be accused of not caring about life because they want to open, half will be accused of the same because they don’t. Most of you know where you land, some of you like to think there is a compromise to be had.
When you add up everything, some states have painted a picture of no gatherings lasting well into the Summer, others are quite literally opening up next week. Despite the fear of doing so, after a period of success or failure from those early opener states we’ll have a better idea how this will progress.
I’ll say this, there is a reason so many of these sports organizations are discussing the possibility of moving forward with limited state solutions. We’ve seen the Arizona plan, the Cactus and Grapefruit league solution, the Texas proposal, and I’m sure they’ve discussed even more than that. None of these can really move forward without significant work and some give and take from the players and the owners. I have a hard time believing WWE, an outfit with actual COVID-19 cases in their ranks, was able to find a path to being called an essential business but all the other leagues can’t.
So, what will need to happen to start swinging the pendulum back toward getting sports back? It looks like golf will be first, playing with no crowds it’s a relative no brainer that Golf will be a successful relaunch. I’d imagine NASCAR will be another capable of making a return fairly soon. I think we are approaching a time when Hockey and Basketball need to call it a season. Both are still holding out hope that a playoff can happen, but both run the very real risk of interrupting their 2021 seasons if it goes much longer. The NFL is going forward as if everything will be on schedule, bluntly put, we should all be rooting for them to be dead on, if they aren’t, we as a nation are in a lot of trouble. No, not because we won’t have football, rather if the NFL cancels, trust me, this hasn’t improved at all by September.
I keep using the “dominoes will fall” analogy, and I honestly believe that is exactly what will happen, its also where being a coastal sport could kill MLB for 2020. New York is the epicenter of this outbreak and if baseball is going to try to wait for New York to give the all clear, forget this season. If they find a way to be ok with at least starting the season in neutral sites, there is a chance they could get back to business.
Another pressure point could come from outside our borders, the KBO and CBO have opened their seasons in Korea and Taiwan respectively. It’s not the level of baseball we’re used to, honestly, but its baseball. Seeing it can work with no fans, and public pressure to do it themselves may help prod MLB along.
Much of the strife in negotiations between MLB and MLBPA comes from the knowledge that playing right now isn’t feasible, so why not try to get concessions you otherwise wouldn’t attempt to broach. Once it becomes clear they have 4, 5, or 7 states they could easily play ball in some of those internal dominoes will start to fall by the wayside.
There very much so could be a baseball season this year. It won’t be normal. It won’t be 162 games. It might not be played in your home city. But it could very well find a way to start and I don’t think they need to hire Vince McMahon to be the new MLB commissioner to pull it off.