MLB can feel the heat. The NFL held its draft, and the NBA has announced a convoluted plan to open camps “safely.” Baseball, yes. Jumping through hoops, no!
Major League Baseball (MLB), ironically, the team sport with the least degree of contact, is dragging its feet in announcing a plan for the return of the 2020 baseball season.
What’s the holdup?
The holdup is that MLB is exercising common sense and patience in dealing with a volatile pandemic that has an unpredictable mind of its own.
MLB: Look But Don’t Leap
Meanwhile, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver sent a memo to all teams detailing a plan to allow players to return to team facilities in states with loosened stay-at-home restrictions.
Translation: We’ll have Christmas in Atlanta, Georgia, but with apologies, Christmas will not be celebrated in New York City or Los Angeles this year.
MLB can, if chooses to, follow the NBA’s lead into the realm of the absurd as detailed in the “don’t, or you’ll be called for a foul.”
“No more than four players will be allowed in a practice facility at one time. No head coaches or assistant coaches will be allowed on the premises with the players. No group activities will be permitted in the facilities, including scrimmages or team practices.” (New York Daily News)
Translation MLB style: Aaron Boone, Joe Girardi, and Don Mattingly – coaches might as well stay home. We’ll have a pitcher, catcher, a hitter, and one lonesome fielder chasing down balls all over the damn field – and you better not engage in any “group activities” like a fielding drill.
Adam Silver Is A “Wild and Crazy Guy”
No professional team sport is more susceptible to the spread of the coronavirus than basketball.
The pro game today is designed for constant and necessary physical contact, with uniforms that become depositories for sweat and leakage of other bodily fluids.
And so it’s no wonder that the NBA has already backed off its plan to open some camps on May 1 following pushback from its player’s union. The new date is now May 8.
And that’s the problem with deadlines. They open the door for signs of weakness and the inability of the right hand to coordinate with the left hand in advance of an outcome.
MLB has offered up several ways to revitalize the 2020 baseball season. Nearly all of them have been explained with an analysis offered here for each.
The Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) has not shown major resistance to any of the plans. Details, details – of course. But not to the essentials of the policy being discussed.
MLB Fans: It’ll Be Worth The Wait
It’s almost a given, in fact, that whatever emerges when the baseball season resumes is going to include wide-ranging tests of long called for but yet to be adopted rules changes.
A universal DH, a man on second to begin an extra-inning frame, the twenty-second clock between pitches, and even a home run hitting contest to end extra-inning games in “Sudden Death.”
MLB, together with team owners, players, sportswriters, TV Networks, and fans, all thirst for the game to return.
Watching re-runs of games long lost in time is no substitute for major league competition in real-time.
But it would be a mistake for MLB to concoct a scheme like the one the NBA has to play make-believe pretend games that baseball is just around the corner.
Because it’s not, nor should it be.
MLB, if it holds the line, will know when the time is right for baseball. And ironically, when we hear the call to “Play Ball,” the 2020 season just might be played as one for the history books.
Deal me in.