There would be no fans in the stands, and under the “Arizona-Florida plan,” the Giants and A’s would be in the same division, and we would never play the Dodgers.
It is now mid-April, and I cannot even name one player I want the 49ers to draft. It hasn’t ever occurred to me that the NBA Playoffs would have started this Saturday. And I no longer even care that Madison Bumgarner signed with the Diamondbacks. Who am I even anymore?
Updated story on MLB potentially asking players to accept further reductions in salary if games are played with no fans. League says “both parties understood (previous) deal was premised on playing in stadiums with fans and agreement makes that clear.” https://t.co/nsl2HTYdiF— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) April 16, 2020
But for about the last week, Major League Baseball has been considering several plans to bring baseball back if they can do so in accordance with certain public health goals (not the least of which is flattening this wave). MLB commissioner Rob Manfred vowed to the Associated Press on Wednesday that the league would "turn over every stone to try to play the game in 2020 if there’s any way we can in the environment.”
The nation’s unofficial personal care physician Dr. Anthony Fauci weighed in on starting baseball up in an interview with Vanity Fair, clips of which are seen above. He did not pitch around the question.
“If you could get on television, Major League Baseball, to start July 4,” he said. “Let’s say, nobody comes to the stadium. You just, you do it. I mean people say, ‘Well you can’t play without spectators.” Well, I think you’d probably get enough buy-in from people who are dying to see a baseball game. Particularly me. I’m living in Washington. We have the World Champion Washington Nationals. You know, I want to see them play again.
“But there’s a way of doing that because there have been some proposals both at the level of the NFL, Major League Baseball, National Hockey League, to get these people tested, and to put them in big hotels, you know, wherever you want to play. Keep them very well surveilled, namely a surveillance, but have them tested, like every week. Buy a gazillion tests. And make sure they don’t wind up infecting each other or their family. And just let them play the season out. I mean, that’s a really artificial way to do it, but when you think about it, it might be better than nothing.”
As the doc mentioned, MLB has completely accepted that there will be no fans. There are some other tinkerings on the table too, as the National Newspaper Publishers Association reports the leagues is considering an “electronic device to call balls and strikes and, at least for the 2020 season, eliminate the home plate umpire.” There is also talk of players sitting in the stands instead of the dugout to maintain social distancing, and miked up players for a more interesting stay-at-home game-watching experience, which would surely lead to many delightful exchanges like the profanity-laced g*dd*mned m*therf*cking video below.
Two primary plans under consideration are the Arizona plan, in which all games would be played at empty Arizona Spring Training stadiums, and the Arizona-Florida plan, under which games are played at teams’ respective Cactus League and Grapefruit League facilities. The Arizona-only plan represents normally structured baseball, but players hate it because they would all be quarantined from their families for four months.
A high-ranking official told @BNightengale that MLB might realign all divisions to play the 2020 regular season at Spring Training sites in Arizona and Florida...— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) April 10, 2020
What do you think? pic.twitter.com/QU9lI3xSXE
What’s fascinating about the competing Arizona-Florida plan is that it would lead to wacky divisional realignment seen above, in which the Giants' playoff chances would improve drastically as they would never have to play the powerhouse Dodgers (unless both teams made the World Series, which would be played in a neutral dome). The Giants and the A’s would be in the same division, the terribly named Cactus League Northeast. Further, the Florida games would start at 8 a.m. Pacific Time, which would be fun as hell.
Baseball knows they are making an extremely consequential decision here. The A’s minor league manager Webster Garrison was just taken off a respirator in his fight with COVID-19, and if even one player gets sick and dies, this becomes a public relations disaster that makes the steroids scandals look like a day that the — you know.
But CNN reports that South Korea is bringing back baseball, thanks to their dropping infection rate. Taiwan has already started baseball games. We’d love to be able to replicate that, and an abbreviated baseball season here. But we’d rather they didn’t replicate the robot mannequins in the stands that Taiwan is using.
Image: Dazey LaRue Designs