Today April 24, 2020. Baseball hasn’t been played for 43 days and during times like these, it feels like a distant memory of the past. With baseball and all sports put on the back burner, the world has turned to social distancing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. In an effort to bring back sports as soon as possible, Major League Baseball is the first of the big five sports in the U.S. to discuss major plans to play amid the lockdown.
At the moment, the plan on the table is to play a shortened season in a bubble city. Basically what this means is that all of the necessary personnel will leave their home cities and migrate to one area. All thirty teams and whoever else will join them from the media and medical staff will all stay in hotels completely booked by MLB. The plan is to have enough tests to evaluate the players, coaches, and other staff every day without hindering the possible tests for the rest of the country because while we all want baseball back, the health of the country as a whole comes first.
But where could this happen? If you don’t already know, the Phoenix area is the best spot for this bubble city to occur. With Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and ten spring training facilities in the surrounding area, teams may have to play two seven-inning doubleheaders and carry a much larger team due to the extreme heat Phoenix brings during baseball season. The reason for this is to try and get as close to 162 games as they can. I presume these doubleheaders wouldn’t be every day but luckily, teams can carry extra players to try and prevent injuries.
Then, there still is the issue of social distancing. Umpires will not stand directly behind the catcher and will be in charge of an electronic strike zone. The electronic strike zone has been a thought in the minds of many MLB staff and fans in the past couple of years and now, they may get a chance to finally use it. Players and staff on the team will sit six feet apart in the stands instead of crowding in a dugout to reduce the chance of any contact. This may seem silly but at the end of the day, if it brings baseball back in the safest way possible, I’ll take it.
The last major issue that arises is if the MLBPA can come to an agreement with the MLB to ensure the players feel safe and are comfortable with staying in a bubble city. L.A. Angels star Mike Trout wants to play baseball again but thinks the bubble city might push the envelope a little.
“I obviously want to play as fast as we can. Being quarantined in a city … it would be difficult for some guys. What are you gonna do with family members? My wife is pregnant. What am I gonna do when she goes into labor? Am I going to have to quarantine for two weeks after I come back? Because obviously I can’t miss that birth of our first child. There’s a lot of red flags, a lot of questions. Obviously, we would have to agree on it as players. But I think the mentality is we want to get back as soon as we can, but obviously it’s gotta be realistic. We can’t be sitting in a hotel room, just going from the field to the hotel room and not being able to do anything. I think that’s pretty crazy.”
Although, the idea of a bubble city does seem a little daunting. If anyone associated in baseball somehow contracts it, that could disrupt the entire operation and even be life-threatening for those in the bubble city. This virus has spread quicker than anything we have seen in years and testing every single day won’t be the only way to prevent or catch the virus before it spreads. This idea is definitely a high risk, high reward situation but in this case, does the risk severely outweigh the reward? Sure, we all miss baseball to the point where we would do anything to get it back but risking the health of the people that give us this beautiful game may not be worth it.