I love baseball. It has been a big part of my life for nearly six decades.
Growing up in St. Louis you learn the words to Take Me Out To The Ballgame at an early age. You grow up with your own family, and, at the same time, a second one called Cardinal Nation.
As much as I, and millions of others, would love to see baseball played in 2020, the best course of action would be for Major League Baseball to forgo the current season.
This goes beyond baseball executives wondering how to create a schedule with a shortened season. It is more about preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus and the safety concerns of everyone involved, both on and off the field.
First consider the players. There will be 26 of them on each squad this year. How do they practice social distancing sitting in a dugout, and in the clubhouse? How do they keep from communal touching that could lead to virus transmission?
On the field will players still emit internal fluids from spitting gum and sunflower seeds? How do they orchestrate stealing bases and avoiding collisions with members of the opposing team, or should they?
Travel must be a strong consideration. Should teams climb on a plane every three or four days? Impossible to keep social distancing on an aircraft with so many on board. Perhaps management should employ a fleet of planes for safety purposes.
Coaches and managers would seem to be the ones at greatest risk. Most are in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. Do they need to wear masks and protective gloves in the dugout? How do they protect themselves from being around a large group of young people, all it takes is one to unknowingly be the carrier of the disease.
The health of trainers and other staff must be considered. Those who need to attend to players on a day-to-day basis for bumps, bruises and illnesses may require all sorts of protective clothing to do their jobs.
Should one manager, one coach, or one player contract the virus does MLB quarantine that team for weeks? How will that impact the pennant races and the rest of the schedule? Should that person’s situation becomes critical or worse, will MLB shut it all down?
On top of it all safety-minded fans will stay away. MLB will have to deal with empty ballparks. The sound of ball striking bat will reverberate throughout porous 50,000 seat stadiums. Overall quality of the game experience will be compromised.
Smarter heads than this one are currently working through these issues. However, until a vaccine is found and administered, logic would tell you that as much as we would all love our teams to take the field it would be best for MLB to take a pass this season.
In the words of the musical Damn Yankees, “what ’till next year.”