The coronavirus has put the MLB season on hold, and it seems there are two things we all can agree on:
- Baseball isn’t coming back anytime soon.
- MLB is determined to make it look like baseball might come back soon.
Those things might be conflicting, but they also might not be conflicting. We’ve heard a million and one proposals for a return to baseball, with each falling somewhere on the scale between “Dana White delusion” and “extreme posturing.”
Perhaps Rob Manfred and Co. actually believe they can start the MLB season soon. Or perhaps they think there’s no chance, but figure that by dangling the carrot in front of the consumer’s nose, they can look as good as possible for as long as possible while making as much revenue as possible.
We may never know. What we do know, is that MLB’s current plan — if you can call it that — rests firmly on the shoulders of Arizona.
Here’s ESPN’s Jeff Passon, on the ESPN show Get Up, with the latest:
One part of Passan’s reporting stood out the strongest:
“There’s of course the Arizona plan. There’s one in Arizona and Florida, which is much less viable, both politically and functionally. And there was, as [ESPN’s] Tim Kurkjian said a couple weeks ago, this thought that maybe we could just export baseball to Japan — I don’t think that one’s going to be happening. When it’s all said and done, it seems like it’s going to be Arizona or bust for Major League Baseball.”
There are, of course, a few million obstacles. So far the focus has been on whether such a plan is safe, responsible, and able to clear political hurdles.
CA Gov. Gavin Newsom calls sports and other large events "unlikely" this summer: "The prospect of mass gatherings is neglible at best until we get to herd immunity and get to a vaccine."— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) April 14, 2020
But there’s also the itty bitty little road bump of trying to quarantine a few hundred baseball players in one state for four months, away from their spouses, children, and other loved ones.
One of baseball’s most notable and respected ambassadors, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, already made that stance clear.
“I’m not going to be away from my family and not see them for four and a half months,” Kershaw told SportsNet LA, as transcribed by True Blue LA. “I just talked about [his three-month old son] Cooper changes so much in one week, so to miss four months of his life right now, I’m just not going to do it.”
Kershaw doesn’t speak for all MLB players, and perhaps those whose career earnings are in six figures rather than nine figures might see things a little differently. But it’s a concern that would be echoed nearly unanimously, and I suspect a huge number of players share Kershaw’s strict stance.
That is exceedingly understandable, and highlights not only why MLB’s plans aren’t feasible, but also why they were silly to ever be brought up.
It’s not going to happen. Not like this, and not for a long time.