How Optimistic Are You That the 2020 Season Will Be Played? (Round 4)

Since late March, we’ve been asking readers for their perspective on whether there will be a 2020 season and what it might look like if there is. Every two weeks, we list the same questions and publish the results the following week. This will be the fourth round of questions. Thank you for taking the time to respond.













Thanks again, and keep an eye out for the results.





Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.

newest oldest most voted
The Stranger
Member
Member

For the first time, I believe baseball will be played this year. Not because MLB is any closer to solving the problems of testing and what to do if a player tests positive, but because the past week has convinced me that we are going to stick our collective heads in the sand about this thing.

TKDC
Member
Member
TKDC

To be fair, MLB is not the entity that can solve the testing problem. Put another way: MLB could very likely test as many and as often as it wanted, but much like the NBA has said semi-publicly, the optics of expansive testing to facilitate baseball while the country (federal government) has utterly failed to provide any semblance of a national testing protocol or plan would be bad.

Kinsm
Member
Kinsm

“Bad” ….yes, but that still wouldn’t stop them.

SenorGato
Member
SenorGato

Same, definitely a vibe that people are over this shutdown even in hard hit areas

sadtrombone
Member
Member
sadtrombone

The polling is fairly consistent showing that the majority of the population is pretty anxious about doing anything and support the current restrictions (in some cases, are saying it needs to be stricter).

And in hard-hit areas? No, I don’t think that’s a fair characterization at all.

brucewayne75
Member
brucewayne75

Wrong! I’m in NYS. This shutdown needs to end! Two months sitting on our asses and deaths still piling up. Staying inside is not working. My friends are losing their businesses. We need to get back to work.

MikeS
Member
Member
MikeS

For the same reason, I’ve decided that no baseball will be played. My interpretation is that sticking our heads in the sands will make things worse, causing a rise in cases and deaths and an increase risk that some players develop the disease. Eventually even the stubborn and stupid governors will re-institute stay at home orders. Then you have to start the process all over again and wait at least another month before trying again. By the time that happens it will be too late to play baseball.

Another possibility is we may get baseball for a week or three, then it all falls apart and never starts up again. The Tigers will be declared league champions after starting the season 6 – 1, all of those games being against the Royals and Orioles.

The Stranger
Member
Member

Honestly that would probably be better but I’m even more pessimistic. I guess I find it more likely that the reopening will be gradual enough that there’s no big spike. Just an ebb and flow of new cases in different communities and the numbers continuing to climb nationwide at more or less the rate they have been. Which somehow doesn’t seem like an emergency any more, so we’ll just look around in a year and half a million people will be dead in this country.

Jetsy Extrano
Member
Jetsy Extrano

Though gradual exponential growth leads to steep exponential growth… hard to boil a frog that way.

sadtrombone
Member
Member
sadtrombone

One of these two options are more or less what I’m thinking is going to happen soon, but I also think they fit broadly within TheStranger’s general premise. Here’s how it’s going to play out:

-Right now, they’re trying to figure it all out. They may not have permission to open up in states with more cautious governors (CA, NY, MA, DC, MD, IL among them), but they’ll figure out a way around that. Testing? Some governors will promise they’ll be available. What to do if a player gets coronavirus? Excuse me while I use my magic hand wave to indicate we have it solved (of course, it isn’t).

-At some point later this month, teams will announce they’ll start the season on July 1.

-Players will go to spring training complexes at some point in June. At that point, we’ll see warning signs, but it won’t be obvious to everyone that we’re about to have another breakout. The sun is shining (which helps), people are outdoors (which helps), and since many people are too scared to actually get within 6 feet of each other things will hold for a little while. There will be an uptick in cases by that point. The governors won’t reverse course, and neither will MLB.

-Of course, we only really find out if things are bad about 2 weeks after the fact, since it takes a long time for people to start showing symptoms. At some point in late June or early July, all hell is going to break loose someplace where the MLB is trying to play. The governor, so proud of the fact that they’ve got baseball, will be slow to shut everything down. Then, they will reverse course, MLB will abruptly cancel everything, and then we’re back to square one.

Whether they’ll call everything off just before the season starts or 1-3 weeks into the season is unknown. But I’m certain now they’re going to announce that a season is going to happen, and I’m certain that plan is going to be derailed.

MikeS
Member
Member
MikeS

That’s pretty much how I feel it will go, just with more detail than I put in my original post.

The Stranger
Member
Member

I worry that you’re underestimating the number of people who will need to die before restrictions are reinstated and the season derailed. Our collective threshold for “hell breaking lose” is at an almost inconceivably high level right now. Every single day something like 2,000 people die of this disease in the U.S. and half the country has interpreted that as “we’ve got this under control.” The other half is likely going to be forced to relax restrictions soon as well, almost regardless of what happens with the numbers. With that as a baseline, there’s a whole lot of people who would need to die to put the brakes on again.

Meanwhile, if 2,000 people keep dying daily (a number that has apparently been declared acceptable by many policy makers), that’s half a million by the end of the year. Unless, of course, you think that undercounts the true total.

sadtrombone
Member
Member
sadtrombone

3K a day will probably be considered acceptable if (1) it’s constituencies the governors don’t care about and (2) it doesn’t go up from there. I’m willing to bet that one of those two isn’t going to stay constant over the next 8 weeks, and quite likely neither one will stay that way.

runningfrog
Member
runningfrog

7700 Americans died every day in 2019. 79% of those dying from C19 are age 65+. Those people DO vote, and it’s an election year. But they don’t work. Currently we have a ratio of around 2,000 unemployed people under 65 for every death under age 65 (33 million unemployed to around 17,000 deaths, with both numbers likely undercounted as many have been unable to successfully file claims, but the death count is also likely light). The generational disparity is stark. Retirees who don’t add to the economy but do vote are the ones dying. Working age folks who don’t vote are the ones suffering financially.

How much do young people care about the health of their elders? How much do their elders care about the young people’s future?

sadtrombone
Member
Member
sadtrombone

I have no idea what you’re getting at, but there is no economy with people dying at a substantial rate. If those numbers you cite are correct, excess mortality at 2K a day means the mortality rate is over 25% higher than normal; at 3K a day it’s over 35% higher than normal. You can’t magically wave your hands and restart “the economy” if consumers have no interest in spending money. The entire section of our economy dedicated to “entering a building with strangers” is going to go out of business.

The only way out is to beat the virus, and you do that with public health infrastructure. Not committing to that means you’re just in endless cycles of lockdowns and reopenings. This whole idea that you have to pick between economic pain and people dying is a false choice, because if you pick people dying you get the economic pain anyway, and with public health infrastructure you can minimize the economic pain.

carter
Member
Member
carter

I mostly agree with sadtrombone here. It will be an interesting case study at least. I do think it is possible however that your time frame is a tad off, and all hell breaking lose won’t be till early fall.

Psychic... Powerless...
Member
Psychic... Powerless...

I agree with you, with one exception: The governors aren’t “stupid”; they simply value the economy more than human life, especially when people of color have the highest death rates.

sadtrombone
Member
Member
sadtrombone

That’s often true, although it’s also stupid, since there’s no way to get people to spend money on non-essential shopping and leisure activities when people are dying.

sadtrombone
Member
Member
sadtrombone

I saw today that auto dealerships posted their worst month in THIRTY YEARS today. And the vast majority of car dealerships aren’t closed.

MikeS
Member
Member
MikeS

Valuing the economy over human life is stupid even from a purely bloodless, analytical, perspective because it ignores the fact that most economists say an American life is worth about $9M to the economy on average. So every 1000 deaths costs the economy $9B. That’s about every 12 hours now.

martyvan90
Member
Member
martyvan90

Against my better judgement I’m responding…I feel like I’m taking bait. Life is precious to every decent American. The concept of the economic impact of disease has been studied extensively, has economic metrics that guide it much like Fangraphs. I suggest you study QALY before making your argument in economic terms.
Don’t let anyone coercive you to make a decision that you feel endangers you or your family. Stay safe! https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quality-adjusted_life_year

STLFan
Member
Member
STLFan

I’m a physician and working on COVID units at a large hospital in St Louis.
I also really love baseball. I’m on the front lines and I’m honestly not sure what the correct answer is. One thing I’ll point out is that a disproportionate percentage of cases and especially deaths has occurred in nursing home patients (> 33/% of deaths in Louisiana for instance). These cases are difficult to prevent as they spread like wildfire in the nursing home and those patients are very high risk. At my hospital the VAST majority of current cases are from nursing homes, community spread really seems to have slowed. Numbers in Missouri are not improving as we’d like but this is almost all accounted for by the institutional spread (plus an outbreak at a meat processing facility). We need to take this into account when thinking about reopening the economy as in many ways things have improved or at least plateaued. Also the economic analysis of $9M loss to the economy per life lost is flawed when a very disproportionate number of deaths are coming from the groups I mentioned. I try to save lives for a living but I’m also aware of the huge economic and mental health costs of shutting down the country. Another example – my ex-wife is a middle school gifted teacher and 2 of her students have made suicide attempts since the shutdown. I try to keep in perspective that the mortality rates for most groups of young and middle-aged adults, and for all children, is exceedingly low.

3cardmonty
Member

And what of the meatpackers? They’re just supposed to pack the meat and die? What if we tried to actually beat back the virus through comprehensive test and trace like Germany has done instead of just letting it burn through the country because it’s mostly olds and meatpackers at risk? That hasn’t even been TRIED yet, we’re just giving up without trying!!

STLFan
Member
Member
STLFan

Yes comprehensive test and trace should be done and it’s very disappointing that we haven’t gotten there yet (and may never). My point above is that the statistics are skewed by institutional spread. Apparently meatpacking plants are especially prone to breakouts because of working conditions. Also as of May 1 5000 meatpacking employees had tested positive (undoubtedly an underestimate) with 20 deaths, so a mortality rate of at most 0.4%. It’s burning through nursing homes because we as a society have chosen to put a large proportion of our elderly in said homes, with underpaid staff and I would assume inadequate protective gear. And again no good system to identify nursing home workers who have COVID or have been exposed to it.

brucewayne75
Member
brucewayne75

Thank you for your hard work Doctor. Be well.

NashvilleSounds
Member
Member
NashvilleSounds

Yeah, we need an extra voting option for “how many players will get COVID-19 over the course of the season?”

brucewayne75
Member
brucewayne75

Another Doom and Gloomer posting on a baseball site. I swear these negative people are revelling in this nightmare. Miserable people. God forbid we have a pleasant distraction during the worst year ever. The players are well aware of the risks so please STFU.