Astros: MLB considering options for baseball in 2020
As the COVID-19 landscape changes daily, so does the implications of whether or not there will be Houston Astros baseball in 2020.
The MLB, MLBPA, and government officials seem to agree that playing baseball in 2020 could be a way to bring some joy to the American people who are sitting at home in need of hope that this will soon end and life may soon get back to some semblance of normal. Houston Astros fans would certainly love to see their team back in action.
What better way to do that than to figure out a way to bring baseball back sooner rather than later?
Jeff Passan with ESPN reported Monday that the MLB and the MLBPA are investigating potential ways to make this happen. On Tuesday morning, MLB issued an official statement indicating that it has been “actively considering numerous contingency plans that would allow play when the situation has improved enough to make it safe.”
Safety logistics are being carefully discussed and potential plans include playing all games in Arizona spring training facilities and Chase Field. Teams would be sequestered in local hotels, only transporting back and forth to games.
Officials are also considering plans that include testing of all players, coaches, and essential team personnel, including trainers and medical staff. This alone is a problematic issue because of the availability of tests and the speed of results. The potential for this testing could hinge on the development of an easier, faster test, which is said to soon be within the realm of possibility.
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There are a lot of difficult issues to be considered. One such issue is the sequestering of players from the public for up to four months. This issue was addressed by Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle on Twitter and revolves around the fact that many Astros players have young or soon-to-be-born children.
Myles Straw, Josh Reddick and Martin Maldonado all have small infants. Justin Verlander and Josh James both have toddlers approaching 18 months, and James’ and Jose Altuve’s wives are both expecting. These are just a few players who could resist being away from their families for such a lengthy period of time.
Even though a great deal of revenue comes from ticket sales and gate revenues, this could possibly be balanced with increased TV coverage. But this brings about a whole other round of issues from a standpoint of public health because of the increased number of people required for broadcasting during games, not to mention maintaining sanitized equipment.
Of course, it goes without saying that the public would be banned from the games. The stands then would likely be used to separate players in accord with CDC social distancing guidelines. A few ideas being tossed about to address the potential safety concerns are shortened games, an electronic strike zone, and no mound visits from either the catcher or from the coaching staff. Also being considered is the idea that players could be wired for sound to increase player interaction with watching fans.
It goes without saying that it is encouraging that this is even being discussed. The last thing anyone wants is to delay baseball any longer than is necessary. But there are a ton of details to be weighed in order to protect everyone involved.