Baseball Might Be Back in May

June is still more likely.  There are lots of moving parts, but plans are starting to come together.  One caveat is the expectation of readily available testing with rapid turnaround on results by early May, plenty of supplies such that it wouldn’t impact everyone else’s access to testing.

Part of the plan is to have the players in isolation at hotels in the Phoenix area and all games in Phoenix.  There are 10 minor league/spring training venues and Chase Field that would be used—some other fields could possibly be used as well, but that’s at least 11 there.  No fans allowed.  Crews, coaches, and maybe media too will be kept in isolation.  Rather than the dugouts, it’s expected the teams would sit in the empty stands, with 6 ft between players.

The MLBPA is buying in; it remains to be seen if players themselves are agreeable to being potentially separate from families 4-5 months.  To not shut down in the event of a positive test, it’s likely the rosters will be expanded for the season, which means more players getting big league paychecks and accrue service time.

To squeeze in more games, more double headers are being discussed—with the double header games being 7 innings this year instead of 9.  Robo-umps for ball/strike calls are being considered to allow the ump to separate himself from the catcher.

The teams obviously would lose the gate receipt income, but national telecasts would likely increase to offset that.  A one-year change to revenue sharing to even out income from regional networks is also expected—the difference between highest and lowest regional TV incomes is about $100M.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s KBO has reopened camps, and intraquad games are viewable on YouTube.  Actual games start in two weeks.  They, too, are isolated in hotels and will play in empty venues.  The social distancing rules are stricter there and enforced across their society.  It’s also been stated that any player, coach, or staff member testing positive immediately shuts everything down again.

in any case, real progress to exiting baseball purgatory is afoot.

5 thoughts on “Baseball Might Be Back in May

  1. Softball rules for base runners so the first baseman doesn’t have to hold the runner on? Will the manager, infielders and catcher have to stay six feet apart during mound conferences allowing the base runners and hitter to listen in?

    I believe I saw something implying that if someone tested positive the thing would shut down. The tests aren’t perfect. A small but significant number of them return false positives and false negatives – a few percent it’s believed. We’re talking about around 900 players, and hundreds of coaches, trainers, equipment managers, grounds crew, hotel employees etc.. It should be assumed that there will be periodic false negatives and positives. And it should be assumed that at least some of them will get or pass the virus during the season, but we’re talking about 20 – 40 year old world class athletes, not exactly a high risk group. Getting hit by a pitch to the head is probably the greater risk. But Joe Madden and coaches his age should stay home.

    Some reasonable risks will have to be taken. There’s no such thing as perfect safety. It may be that everybody staying in their home towns instead of gathering together in a controlled environment with continual testing and monitoring provides a greater risk that some of them will get or transmit the virus.

    PLAY BALL!!!…with common sense.


    1. What’s being discussed in MLB is not a shut down for any test, but having expanded rosters and staffs to enable enough non-positive people to carry on. I don’t know if that’s workable, but it’s the idea they’re using currently. It’s also predicated upon having plenty of tests available and rapid turnaround on them.

      They’re talking no mound visits by catchers or pitching coaches.

      No doubt lots of other variables I’ve not thought of nor read about yet.

      South Korea, OTOH, is talking a two week shut down anytime someone tests positive on one of the teams. However, they’re also down to about 50 positive tests in the whole country per day now (down from a high of 900 or so on Feb 29).


  2. Even just a two week suspension would up end the competitive starting rotation situation of every team.

    Of course this is just a bull shit Hollywood thing, but it is true that it is not a matter of if we die but when we die…and how.

    Baseball has meant, for going on two centuries

    PLAY ON!!!


  3. After much deep rumination I’m posting again (1) to expel the methane I’ve built up ruminating and (2) to report that I think the whole Arizona plan is even stupider than I thought it was in the first place.

    It reminded me of some sage advice I once gave a colleague who was teaching environmental science at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where the diamondbacks are real, big, ugly and deadly. Buzzzzzz! Anyway, he told me the horned toads were disappearing. I told him not to walk around barefoot.


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