Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic is reporting that Major League Baseball is at least considering a plan that would include playing games without fans at the spring training homes in either Florida or Arizona – though Arizona seems more likely as the travel between sites is much shorter.

It’s not just Major League Baseball that’s having the conversation, though. The NBA and The Premier League have both also had talks about essentially quarantining teams and playing in empty stadiums/arenas with all of the games being broadcasted on television.

As you can expect, the pushback from that is big. In order for a plan like that to work, it’s more than just the players that would need to be quarantined. Managers, coaches, umpires, grounds crews, skeleton crews for each stadium, radio crews, television crews, hotel workers that interact with the hotel the players stay at, the training staff, the chefs that prepare the food for the players…. there’s probably plenty of people I’m forgetting about, too, that would all need to basically be cut off completely from the world in order to make this happen.

Beyond that, there are orders in place about gathering sizes and a question about whether or not baseball would be allowed based only on those specific orders – much less all of the other concerns.

Japan and Korea both moved forward with their plans for playing in empty ballparks during their spring training schedules. It didn’t take long for Japan to have a team hit by positive tests, with one team having three players test positive for coronavirus/COVID-19. At first the league said that they would go forward with their plan to open up their season on April 24th despite that. A few days later they changed course and suspended the start of the season indefinitely.

As I’m typing this, President Trump just completed a conference call with commisioners and executives from MLB, NBA, WNBA, NFL, NHL, PGA, LPGA, NASCAR, MLB, UFC, and  WWE. There has not been much come out in the five minutes since the call reportedly ended aside from this statement:

Today, President Donald J. Trump spoke by telephone with commissioners of major league sports to discuss the all-of-America response to COVID-19. The President recognized the good work being done by many teams and players to care for their communities, workforces, and fan bases across the nation. The commissioners thanked President Trump for his national leadership and for his interest in the sports industry. President Trump encouraged them to continue to support their fellow Americans during this challenging time.

If more useful information from this conference call becomes available as it relates to the sport of baseball, it will be updated.

23 Responses

  1. Jeff Greer

    Given that the virus is nowhere close to being eradicated, why is this even being discussed? Sports fans need to come to the understanding that in 2020 there will be NO major league baseball, NO college football and NO professional football. We need to stay focused on what is Important: our families and our health.

    • Doug Gray

      I mean, it’s being discussed because there’s a whole lot of money involved. Love it or hate it, that’s why.

      Personally, I think it’s ridiculous it’s even on the table as it’s virtually impossible to keep the amount of people away from society that it would require in order to make this work. The players are probably willing to isolate from their friends/family because they are paid well enough to make it happen. Is the video camera operator going to see his salary quadrupled so it may be worth it for him to just isolate his entire life for the next 4 months? I just can’t see how it’s actually going to come together. But I’m also just some idiot who writes about baseball on the internet.

      • TBD

        Doug, I agree with your personal assessment, this seems way too early to even being discussed.

        Jeff, i agree we as fans need to adjust our expectations, but, I don’t think the powers that be ever really care about what fans actually want anyways. It is as Doug said, about $s.

    • BK

      Why? MLB and MLBPA have a responsibility to explore every alternative to play as much baseball as they safely can. Executing a plan like playing in an empty stadium may prove infeasible. But if it is feasible and not executed because they didn’t plan they will have failed the owners and players that it is their duty to represent. It’s hard to understand criticism of a planning effort–planning is what leadership teams do!

  2. Tom Mitsoff

    As a follow-up to this report, ESPN just reported that President Trump spoke with commissioners from 12 professional sports leagues, and hopes to have fans back in stadiums by August or September.

    • TR

      Let’s keep the #1 priority front and center which is to have the Covid-19 virus under control before we have people near each other in stadiums and churches.

      • TBD

        Interesting that you slipped in there “churches”.

  3. Bred

    Doug nailed it. It’s all about the money. I miss baseball a lot. However, starting now or in Aug. is asinine. It has not even peaked , and the health experts have said it will be back in the fall. Will I watch? Probably , but I might not enjoy it as much because I believe it is the wrong thing to do. I guess that’s called the catholic guilt syndrome.

    • TBD

      I grew up Catholic and went to Catholic grade school.
      I guess you could just say a few hail Mary’s and a couple of Our Fathers, and it will be fine. 🙂

  4. Jeff Gangloff

    Selfishly, I want baseball. I get the concern, though. All it takes is for one person/player to get sick and this becomes a complete failure and a horrible look for everyone involved.

    The logistics of making this happen are near impossible.

  5. HoF13

    There is a reason beyond money to have sports — it placates the masses — it helps people feel like normalcy is coming back. People are starting to get antsy. Extend “lock downs” longer and it could start to get ugly. A sport going on could help. Now I rarely watch pro basketball but I think that is most feasible to restart. Use the games played as regular season end standing and come back for the playoffs. There are only half the teams left playing, limit team rosters to 10 players, 2 coaches on those teams, isolate all the teams in one area, etc. I still think it’s a gamble and I’m not necessarily advocating it but I think it’s more reasonable than baseball restarting and I would look into what it would take to do it.

    • TBD

      You make an excellent point about placating the masses and bringing a normalcy back. But, I also point out that empty stadiums doesn’t seem very normal.

  6. Stock

    Last week someone told me I was nuts when I said 5,000 people in the USA would die this week because of the virus. 6,250 deaths later we are looking at 15,000 deaths next week and 50,000 the week after that. Because some states were slow to react this will get worse before it gets better.

    This whole thing is being mishandled and administered in the USA. The nation should have been put on a National shut down 2 or 3 weeks ago. Then we could open things back up quicker. It is great that California shut down but 10 states still have not and California really can’t safely open up until 5 weeks after the last of these 10 states shuts down. Otherwise, California opens up and someone infected from North Dakota comes in for business and it starts all over again.

    • TBD

      You are probably right that we need to have the whole USA shut down. But, I don’t know if that is constitutionality possible.
      More likely that the Washington DC could say to the states Governor’s if you don’t shut things down, then you don’t get this stimulus $.
      I remember DC did that with Highway money back in the 1970s when the OPEC oil embargo was going on and they told the states you don’t get the highway money unless you make the maximum speed limit as 55.

  7. Old-school

    It would be nice if smart people could conquer covid 19. They can’t.
    There is no ” no covid surge” option. It’s happening.

    Smart people can flatten the curve. Smart people can modestly, mildly decrease the area under the curve. But smart people can only do so much and it’s time to recognize that.

    • TBD

      Flattening the curve makes it go on longer, which is a downside. But, the upside is less people die.

  8. Klugo

    This would be Step #1. I imagine if we have baseball at all this season it will start with this.

  9. RedNat

    The mlb players will decide when baseball begins. We speak of ballplayers as heros but they are just a bunch of rich spoiled guys. They are not courageous like the doctors, nurses, and EMT’s on the front line battling this disease. They will not play again unless they know the virus is totally gone or there’s a vaccine. Unfortunately this may take a couple of years at least. They are just not going to risk their health at all and you can’t really blame them

    • TBD

      RedNat – There is no reason for them to risk their lives over this.
      Doctors, Nurses and those unsung heroes that work at the hospital unfortunately do have to risk their lives over this, because that is their job. Just like a fireman, policeman, soldier etc.

  10. Redsvol

    I get the concern about keeping the virus at bay. The hospitals can only do so much. However, a nation can’t shut down its economy for months on end. The government can’t pay 50% of the workforce to be at home for 6 months. At some point, restrictions will be relaxed and the nation’s business will get back to work. Will it mean some flare ups of the virus? Probably, but hopefully we will be better prepared to stamps those out with quick quarantines and newly approved medicines. Very soon it will be just as important to get people back to some normalcy so they have income to afford their daily lives.

  11. TBD

    You make a good point that when we are able to get back to work we will need to be flexible to go back into quarantines in certain areas of the country.
    Hopefully, the government can react better in the future now that this crisis is front and center in all of our minds.

    • TR

      I hope that whoever is in charge in the future realizes that an administrator does not do the actual work but it is one of their chief responsibilities to make sure that those who do the hands on work, in this case the doctors, nurses, and other staff, have the supplies and equipment to do the job. That calls for the person in-charge to have an overview and plan ahead.

  12. Jay

    MLB and all sports for that matter need to do the right thing right here. No talks of starting play until COVID-19 passes. I mean I am seriously fiending for some baseball right now, but come on, we are in a pandemic and the more people are out and about congregating in any capacity means this virus doesn’t go away as easily. IDK, just my observation.