Bringing Back Baseball

As sports fans yearn for sports to comeback, the MLB and its fans are no exception. The MLB and the MLBPA, both have a vested interest in salvaging their season, as the potential revenue to gain is massive, and players will get rewarded for the work they put in during the offseason. The MLB has various contingency plans set in motion, just in case a full return to the season including fans in attendance can’t happen, with two of them being known and discussed in the baseball community.

Empty Stadium

The Arizona Plan would be more like the MLB season structure, as teams would still play out their schedule, but they would do it in a centralized location. In Arizona, there are plenty of Spring Training fields, plus Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. People cite Arizona as a safe place to play since it currently ranks around 22nd in cases of COVID-19. Arizona Gov. Doug Duecy announced on Tuesday he would be in favor of hosting all 30 teams, and that he has been in contact with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred. Players, during these games, would sit in the stands practicing strict social distancing, but the jury is still out on whether pitchers would still continue to use the bullpen. Electronic strike zones would be in use, and players would only get to travel to and from their hotels and the stadiums. This aspect of the plan is receiving pushback from popular players like Mike Trout who called this idea “pretty crazy” in an interview with NBCSN. Clayton Kershaw also said in an interview with SportsNet LA’s John Hartung, “I’m not going to be away from my family and not see them for four months.” Another less talked about problem is the Arizona heat. If the season continues into the summer with the Arizona plan, the brutal Arizona heat is going to hurt players not used to it.

The other plan labelled the Arizona-Florida Plan would be different featuring two leagues, and strictly interleague play. The Grapefruit League would feature teams mainly from the Eastern side of the country and would play in Florida, while the Cactus League would feature teams primarily from the Western side of the country and would play in Arizona. The divisions in these leagues are impromptu making teams like the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies interdivisional rivals. The DH would be in use in both leagues, and players would still practice social distancing measures. Unlike the Arizona plan, players would live in homes instead of team-sanctioned hotels, meaning they could bring their families down, who would have to stay quarantined. This plan, while being more flexible to the players, would be much more risky. If players and their families could live together, it opens the possibility up that one family member could get it and pass it to a player, ruining the entire season. Also, only league vs league play would not happen, as travel still seems to be a bad idea at this time, meaning rivalries like Yankees-Indians or White Sox-Twins wouldn’t happen. These rivalries at first don’t seem as important as regional ones, but these teams all have a history between them with many memorable moments.

Whether or not either of these plans comes to fruition, remains yet to be seen, but one thing is for certain, fans will not be allowed at these games. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious diseases, believes that this is the right way to bring sports back. In an interview with Snapchat’s Peter Hamby, Fauci said “Nobody comes to the stadium. Put [the players] in big hotels, wherever you want to play, keep them very well surveilled.” At least, MLB execs are talking about players being mic’d up to increase the entertainment value of watching people play without fans. MLB fans can take solace in the fact that they may be able to watch the sport they love, back on television soon.


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