While there definitely was a lot more talk and posturing this week, we are no further along in really knowing whether there will be actual baseball this season.
At this point, with so many different forces at work making it difficult for a season to happen, is it best if there is a season at all?
This past week has shown how much the owners hate their teams. Oh, maybe that’s too harsh. Maybe it’s just shown that they value money over the game. No, it might be they don’t care about how this all looks and that the future of the game is at stake. Really, why would the owners be willing to let the game lapse for 18 months, when this could be the time they shine, as no other of the big four sports leagues are currently in play.
When baseball returns, this will leave a long lasting bad taste in the mouths of players and fans alike. The league is also hurtling towards a new Collective Bargaining Agreement which needs to be negotiated at the end of the 2021 season. With both sides bitter, it’ll be difficult to head into those talks without animosity running the discussions.
Regardless of the reasons that ownership has refused to actually negotiate with the players, it looks ridiculous from the outside looking in. There is a huge global pandemic, and these billionaires are squabbling over money with well paid people who play a game for a living.
Other countries have got it figured out. The Korean Baseball Organization have been playing for a couple months. Friday, the Japanese league started play. Of course, these countries don’t have huge regional outbreaks of the virus like the United States does at the moment.
Just today, the Philadelphia Phillies released a statement saying that five players and three staff members were recently diagnosed with having Covid-19. That number does not include the family members who have also reportedly tested positive. 20 people tested negative, and 35 are still awaiting results.
The Phillies camp is in Clearwater, Florida, where there have been mass openings of bars and restaurants. Masks are not required or being worn at these places, leading the disease to be transmitted more quickly. The team is conducting contact tracing, but they have no idea how big the outbreak could be. The state of Florida on Thursday announced its biggest total of cases in one day since the outbreak, close to 3,000. On Friday, the number rose to almost 4,000.
Also on Friday, the Toronto Blue Jays shut down their spring training practice facilities due to a player showing symptoms of the virus.
In the time that I was writing this, there came an article from Jared Diamond that there have been 11 players from seven different 40-man rosters to test positive.
This leads to the question: What happens when players, coaches or staff test positive for the virus if play has resumed? Will that person be quarantined and not allowed to be at games? Will everyone they were in contact with also then be quarantined? What would that then do to team rosters?
There are so many unanswered questions and so many unanswerable questions. The reality is that no one knows how long this pandemic will last or if there will be a second wave. How could one justify a return to play when you just can’t guarantee the safety of all involved?
The best thing to do for everyone is to just close the door on the 2020 season. As much as we all want something to take our minds away from all the awfulness in the world right now, it’s shouldn’t be at the expense of players, regardless of how much money they are getting paid.
In a perfect world, they would take a break, step back, and use the time between seasons to figure their stuff out. Even though there is still a year left on the CBA, it would be so much better if they went into negotiations on better footing.
But, nothing in this world is perfect, and I have been accused more than once of trying to only look at the world with rose-colored glasses.
The National Basketball Association and National Hockey League have more of an incentive to get their leagues up and running again. They have completed a good portion of their seasons and could go right into playoff mode. Their teams are smaller, suited to being more capable of keeping people contained in one area and not exposed to outside forces.
But with this many teams already having issues with Spring Training 2.0 not even beginning yet, it’s time to nix the season completely. The worst case scenario is if the season starts, and they have to put a stop to things again. It’s time to put apart differences, and go for the safety of all involved.
More people will understand and forgive halting the season for a pandemic than they will because of parties fighting about money.