COVID-19 Roundup: An Aggressive Proposal

This is the latest installment of a daily series in which the FanGraphs staff rounds up the latest developments regarding the COVID-19 virus’ effect on baseball.

MLB Is Pursuing A Return To Baseball In May

Despite the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread throughout the United States and the rest of the world, Major League Baseball is reportedly attempting to move forward with a plan that would open the 2020 season as early as next month. According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the plan clearly has numerous potential hiccups, but is also being advanced with the support of “high-ranking public health officials.”

As one might expect, this version of the 2020 season would look very different from any we’ve seen before. Games would be relegated entirely to Arizona, with teams playing at Chase Field — the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks — as well as the 10 spring training complexes, and other nearby fields. Only essential personnel would be allowed inside the stadiums, which means no fans in the ballparks. The league has discussed potentially forgoing dugouts in favor of players and coaches sitting six feet apart from each other in the stadium seats, in order to promote social distancing. Passan’s report also mentions the elimination of mound visits from pitching coaches and catchers, seven-inning doubleheaders to make up for lost time in April and early May, and the use of an electronic strike zone, so that umpires can maintain a six-foot distance from the batter and catcher. Once teams report to their respective facilities, there would be another two-to-three week spring training period, followed by the start of the regular season.

Perhaps in response to Passan’s reporting, MLB issued this statement Tuesday morning:

The idea of a baseball season happening at all in 2020, let alone next month, is obviously a welcome one to all of us, but the plans being relayed to Passan seem to be reliant on a lot of things going right. First, MLB would be asking players to agree to four or five months spent in total isolation away from their families, something many would be understandably hesitant to do during a period of global crisis. There would also need to be vast improvements made in available testing supplies, so that the number of tests required for MLB to play this season would not impact their availability to the rest of society. And without ticket sales, teams who don’t have the deep pockets of some of their competitors would want to work out a new revenue-sharing deal for whatever becomes of the 2020 season.

Combine these problems with the grim reality that we still seem to be far from reaching our peak in daily positive tests and deaths, let alone a time when the infection’s spread has slowed to a complete halt, and this proposal seems wildly optimistic. As The Athletic’s Arizona Diamondbacks reporter Zach Buchanan pointed out on Twitter, Arizona is supposed to reach its peak in hospitalizations in May — right when MLB wants its players to begin reporting for camp. Now, those projections given by Arizona’s state health director were issued nearly two weeks ago, and the state has since begun to flatten its curve at a better rate than many other states. But it still saw an 8% increase in positive tests from Sunday to Monday. Like every other part of the country, Arizona is still quite a ways from having this under control.

Even amidst those concerns, however, this plan seems different from the various speculative reports that have trickled out in recent weeks. There are specifics being discussed here, and according to Passan, there is cooperation at the top between the league, players, and federal government. This likely won’t be the last we hear about this proposal. There’s just no telling how far it will actually go.

British Prime Minister Enters ICU

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who spent several days in isolation following a positive test for COVID-19 and was admitted to the hospital on Sunday, was transferred to an intensive care unit on Monday. The prime minister first tested positive on March 26, and his condition has worsened in recent days. He remains conscious, but was moved in case a mechanical ventilator becomes necessary in his recovery.

Wisconsin Will Vote Today, For Some Reason

The conservative majority on Wisconsin’s Supreme Court ruled against Gov. Tony Evers’ attempt to postpone Tuesday’s statewide elections, forcing millions in the state into potentially dangerous crowds if they want to vote. Here’s what that looks like:

According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Tuesday’s ballot includes the presidential primary, state supreme court positions, and numerous local offices including Milwaukee’s mayor race.

Stay safe, everyone.

Tony is a contributor for FanGraphs. He began writing for Red Reporter in 2016, and has also covered prep sports for the Times West Virginian and college sports for Ohio University's The Post. He can be found on Twitter at @_TonyWolfe_.

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4 years ago

Please be true! Please be true! Please be true! Please be true!

4 years ago

Good God I hope not.

4 years ago
Reply to  rthompson

I think I agree with both of you.