With most of the first month of the baseball season already lost and Stay-At-Home orders being extended, fans all over the world are wondering if they will have any baseball season at all. Some cling to hope, while others think there’s no chance of baseball in 2020. Speculation has been made by fans, the media, and even players as to how to still make a season happen. And on Monday night, Jeff Passan dropped an article that gave baseball fans some hope. Passan reported that the MLB union is trying to come up with a plan to allow the season to start as early as May, in Arizona. If you would’ve told me that Jeff would be reporting about a plan like this, I would’ve thought you were insane.
To recap: the plan is to have all 30 MLB teams play in Arizona with no fans in attendance. But among the many issues with this plan is the fact that Arizona has only 11 potential fields, including the Diamondbacks’ own Chase Field. With limited diamonds, teams will have to take turns. In order to play as many games of a 162-game season as possible, the idea of 7-inning games and an increase in doubleheaders is also a possibility.
But another important facet of the plan is the health concerns for all involved. The players, coaching staff, and other essential staff would be in isolation constantly. Players would have to stay at hotels in their own individual rooms, away from their families for the duration of the season, and would only be allowed to shuttle between the stadium and their hotels. They would not even be able to sit together in the dugouts; rather, they would all have to sit at least six feet apart in the empty stands. This does not seem like it would be a viable or fair solution; players have kids and families they need to be with, not abandon for four-plus months.
There is also the possibility that MLB would change multiple in-game rules and procedures to enable baseball to return. Changes include adding an electronic strike zone to maintain distance between umpires and catchers, no mound visits from catchers or coaches, the aforementioned seven-inning doubleheaders and players sitting far apart in the stands to maintain social distancing. These ideas work on paper, but more in theory than in the reality of a game in which anything can happen. It’s also hard to imagine how players will be able to execute the basic aspects of a game, like tagging runners out, while also social-distancing.
My question about all of this is, how will this affect minor league teams? Where will they play? Does MLB cancel the minor league season? What would happen to minor leaguers if they did? That would be an issue once rosters expand. If the MiLB season is cancelled, players will miss almost an entire season. And financially, many are considering giving up the game altogether, because they simply cannot afford to soldier on.
This plan would drastically change the game of baseball. But whether this plan comes to be or not, we will have to adapt in some way to the changes coming our way. Many baseball fans might take changed baseball over no baseball at all right now. Fans are craving that sound of a baseball hitting the catcher’s mitt and the crack of a bat slamming a ball out of the park. Unfortunately, it will be a while before baseball hears the sound of a crowd again.
Every day, a start date seems farther and farther away. And we can only wait and see how this plays out. Fingers crossed, we will have baseball back soon, even if it’s just on our TVs. It’s better than nothing.
Cover Photo: KTAR News
Article Photo: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson