MLB Considering Starting Season with All Teams in AZ, Trump Meeting with Sports Commissioners
The NBA is exploring the possibility of holding its entire postseason in Las Vegas, while the Premier League is weighing options that include finishing its season “in isolated ‘World Cup-style’ camps in the midlands and London over June and July.” According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, MLB is considering something similar ($) in either Florida or Arizona, with the latter more likely due to the close proximity of spring training sites.
This is in keeping with a report from a few days ago that the league is discussing a 100-game season that would begin July 1, quite likely with no fans in attendance. The basic logistics of the schedule, including nixing the All-Star Game and allowing would-be host Los Angeles to play home to the World Series, make sense and would not represent a wild departure from what would have been the second half of the season.
The more granular logistics, however, are more than a little daunting. As Rosenthal points out, simply isolating teams and staff won’t completely mitigate the risk of COVID-19 contamination. There will be thousands of stadium workers and personnel from hotels to restaurants to…well, there are just too many people involved to create a truly sterile ecosystem.
And that’s before we even get to the literal hot take about temperature. Do you know how by-God blazing hot it is out there in the summer? Spare me your “These guys make millions, they can handle it” nonsense, Facebook Guy, playing in 110 temps every day isn’t a great idea. And as for you, It’s-A-Dry-Heat Dude, let me know how dry you feel after standing out there for three hours.
Remember that sweltering Saturday at Wrigley in 2018 when the Twins were in town and like five guys left the game due to heat-related issues? Now make that every team every day and you’ve got a whole new problem to worry about.
As much as I understand the collective desire to get baseball going again, the people making decisions here need to do so without trying to pull some sort of post-9/11 redux. The return of football and baseball in the wake of inconceivable tragedy helped to galvanize more than just sports fans, but we’re talking about a wholly different situation with an unrelated set of risks.
Of course, the decision won’t be entirely up to either the commissioner’s office or the owners or the players union. Local, state, and national governments, along with health officials, are going to need to give the green light in order for anything to proceed. Perhaps following from that, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that President Trump is set to hold a conference call with the commissioners from all major sports leagues on Saturday at noon ET.
As Schefter noted, the NCAA was not scheduled to participate in the call, though that could simply be an oversight. Or maybe the call was only for organizations that openly admit to being professional. I also noticed that Alex Rodriguez wasn’t on the list, but maybe he’ll be heading up a new task force or something.
Scheduled participants on call with Trump:
NBA – Adam Silver
WNBA – Cathy Engelbert
MLB – Rob Manfred
NFL – Roger Goodell
NHL – Gary Bettman
PGA Tour – Jay Monahan
UFC – Dana White
WWE – Vince McMahon
NASCAR – John Middlebrook or Jim France.
MLS – Don Garber.
Notice: No NCAA. https://t.co/ZqKhN6sdGO
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 4, 2020
We could engage in all kinds of speculation as to the intent of this call, which may simply be aimed at getting all the leagues on the same page when it comes to their respective returns. For instance, the NFL has pretty much continued with the league schedule just as planned while other leagues have ceased operations and frozen transactions.
There may be a slight thaw on that front, though, as MLB.com’s Alexis Brudnicki tweeted Friday that the league has eased restrictions on scouting. After initially calling a halt to all scouting activities, clubs have been granted permission to conduct remote assessments from home. So that’s something.
After being sidelined from all activity, MLB clubs have been given permission to engage in remote scouting activities. They can now communicate electronically from home & ask players to complete assessments from their locations. In-person activities still not allowed, of course.
— Alexis Brudnicki (@baseballexis) April 4, 2020
We’ll have more on this as it becomes available, so it’d be really cool if all three of you check back Saturday afternoon or later in the weekend to find out what that is.
Update: According to ESPN, Trump said on the call that he believes the NFL season should start on time in September and that he would like to see fans in stadiums and arenas by August. He also “raised the idea of the leagues working together to lobby for tax credits that used to exist for entertainment expenses, such as the ability to deduct concessions and tickets from taxes” as a way to make fans more willing to attend games in a poor economy.
Ed. note: Because I was made aware after the fact that I was a little blunt earlier, I should note that the Arizona Rookie League plays out there in the summer and it’s much more bearable at night.