New York: “I wanted to play this year because I thought it would be safe. Honestly, I don’t feel that.”
That comment was heard from the Cubs’ Kris Bryant. He was heard Monday as teams continued their Summer camps at home ballparks in preparation for a different and new norm of the 2020 season.
Yes, we all want to see baseball and that’s a good thing but with the Coronavirus pandemic there are risks. Major League Baseball and with all of the medical protocols in place released their 2020 truncated schedule on Monday.
Assume the season will begin as expected in a little less than three weeks with the Yankees and Nationals, the first of many network telecasts. Look at the continuing rise of positive COVID-19 cases and question how long will it be before MLB has to once again come to a halt?
The question will eventually be addressed and decisions will be made by Major League Baseball as more and more players have expressed a concern about the risk. Players, with options to walk away are doing so.
The Atlanta Braves have seen three key players decide to opt out with Felix Hernandez, Freddie Freeman, and Nick Markakis. David Price, Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman are some of the other high profiled players.
As the weeks progress, with testing protocols in place, there are expected to be more than one positive case of COVID-19.
Cases, that will cause more of a concern. A risk and safety concern for players, managers, coaches, support staff, umpires, and other personnel that comprise 30 teams.
However, Major League Baseball is moving forward. The next step is to play ball with a schedule that is now a sprint and not a marathon of a season.
This writer, on the beat for Latino Sports the past 19 years, has decided to opt out of the 2020 season. It’s a risk and restricted to a press box seat and in distance from others with a face mask is not the proper way to cover baseball.
Though. limited to a press box seat, every Major League Baseball ballpark is sanitized and considered to be safe.
For the players, though, it’s a different ballgame with a universal designated hitter, runner at second base to start extra innings, distancing, dressing quarters away from each other, wearing face masks that all of us should do.
And with an increasing rise of the Coronavirus, which has always been a priority of MLB, what will it take now to shut down the game and move on to a hopeful, safe and more secure 2021 season?
Will it take a decimation of rosters due to positive test results and odds against them? Or, the unfortunate severe illness of a player or personnel associated with a team?
This is not the time for Major League Baseball to be the victim of a tragic circumstance due to COVID-19. This writer will not offer that gloom and doom but this has become a concern.
Players reached by Latino Sports are concerned. Similar to Bryant, about this not being a safe and good time to play baseball, they feel the responsibility is to play and take this day-by-day. They mention the possibilities of positive COVID-19 cases with teammates, They are concerned about becoming the next victim that would cause a separation from families.
“Because I have no other option to play,” said a veteran player with a one-year contract with an option for next year.
The risk of not playing, if the season commences and without disruption, is losing a year of service time. The value of free agency for a veteran player is further diminished with statistics not on the resume for 2020.
Not like you or me and with employees offering furloughs, unemployment insurance, players with a union have to follow protocol. Many are not in the income brackets of those like Price, Markakis, Hernandez that have opted to stay home.
The implications are a risk. Get on the playing field and have faith with the medical protocols. Or, as another player said, lose a year and see the possible consequences of not granted a rewarding contract and service time.
This is the unchartered territory that confronts Major League Baseball. They will be the first of major sports leagues to get the ball rolling. Different, though from the NBA and NHL that will have players isolated in a bubble.
Different from boxing, really the first of major sports to resume. Top Rank, with ESPN, has a bubble in place at the MGM Grand Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas and the past month all the medical protocols have been efficient. Fighters or personnel that test positive are removed and placed in quarantine.
Baseball, a team sport, did not opt for the bubble and that is more difficult to do. Instead, the home ballparks are open and in major cities that are sustaining an increased number of positive COVID cases.
Revenue, of course, lost with no fans in the stands when the schedule begins.
MLB is taking a risk. You hope it works and will be free from the Coronavirus. Time will tell as we head towards playing ball and enjoying the game we love this time of year.
Comment: Ring786@aol.com Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso
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