By DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor
It’s been a month since I last went to a baseball game and about three weeks since I saw a live baseball game, and about a month in a half since I last went to a baseball game at Baylor Ballpark. In short, feels like an eternity since I last enjoyed life.
While watching old reruns of baseball classics on YouTube and reliving my favorite moments (I still can’t find the 2018 Big 12 Tournament Championship game between Baylor and TCU though, please help), it’s not the same as being at the ballpark and experiencing the magic first-hand. Or at least live on TV.
So, when I read Jeff Pasan’s ESPN report on the possibility of live baseball games returning in May, I was excited and intrigued. Major League Baseball officials and the players’ union have been considering the idea of bringing all 30 major league clubs to Arizona and isolating them at several hotels near the facilities and fields where games will be played.
Part of the proposal includes players being tested for COVID-19 before starting the season, teams carrying expanded rosters in case of anyone testing positive, the implication of an electronic strike zone (something that has been tossed around the league for years), having players sit distanced from each other in the empty stands and 7-inning double headers being played out to complete the 162-game season on time.
As much as I love and miss baseball, this is a mess. Even the MLB has admitted that this is a mess of a solution (explained in the article linked above).
First, let’s start with the logistical hurdles. How are you going to get 30 teams with 25 to 40 players on their rosters, plus coaches, managers and other personnel, to Phoenix without getting any of them infected? How are you going to get all those facilities and hotels ready in time as well? Surely precautions can be taken, but that is a lot of people moving from place to place.
Then there’s the money. A major portion of what teams make during the year is based on ticket sales. I’ve worked for a baseball team (shout out to the TCL and I hope they don’t also have to cancel summer ball). Having butts in the bleachers is what carries an organization no matter the sport.
Second, and most importantly, player safety and the safety of their families would be put at a severe risk.
While most players have expressed that they would agree to the idea of playing a Cactus League on steroids-like season while living Area 51 style for five to six months so that they can get paid, a lot of players are more concerned with being away from their families and putting them in danger. We have to remember that athletes have lives outside of the ballpark. They have wives and kids and the responsibility of keeping them safe even when it’s difficult to provide for them.
Some of the most important people in my life either play or have played baseball. As much as I want to watch them do what they love out on the field, their health and safety are more important to me.
I miss baseball and sports, but if keeping people safe is the cost, I think I can live a little while longer without it.
Do you really think Mike Trout, the best of the best, wants to miss the birth of his first child (his wife is due in August) just to live under a bubble under the hot Arizona sun while playing in an empty stadium? I don’t think so.