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Thursday, April 16, 2020

Rob Manfred: MLB is Turning ‘Over Every Stone’ to Try and Play in 2020

NEW YORK — Rob Manfred wants Major League Baseball to be in position to take the field whenever government and health officials give the go-ahead.

“I think it’s incumbent upon us to turn over every stone to try to play the game in 2020 if there’s any way we can in the environment,” the baseball commissioner said Wednesday during an interview with The Associated Press.

Spring training was suspended March 12 because of the new coronavirus pandemic and the season’s scheduled start on March 26 delayed. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended all gatherings of 50 people or more be put off through mid-May.

Among the plans baseball is investigating is basing all 30 teams in the Phoenix area and using the 10 spring training ballparks there, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field and possibly college facilities. Games would be played in empty stadiums; players, staff and broadcast crews and technicians would be kept in controlled environments, such as ballparks, hotels and MLB-arranged transport.

 

QLE Posted: April 16, 2020 at 02:01 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: 2020 season, arizona bubble league, manfred is thinking about it

Mike Trout raises issues with MLB’s potential Arizona plan, says ‘it has to be realistic’

Although Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout is widely held as the best player in Major League Baseball, he seldom goes out of his way to comment on many topics, or to otherwise insert himself into the story. Trout’s taciturn nature can work against him, as it limits his visibility and worldwide exposure, but it also grants extra weight to the statements he does make.

Wednesday provided an example of that effect at work. Trout joined Mike Tirico for an interview on NBC Sports Network, during which he discussed MLB’s proposed plans to return this year, albeit with some alterations in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus. Those could include having players all report to a single state (likely Arizona) and remain in isolation to avoid becoming infected.

....

For those who would prefer to read Trout’s words, here you go:

“I obviously want to play as fast as we can. Get to a city, maybe Arizona, they’re throwing out Florida … but being quarantined in a city, I was reading for—if we play— a couple of months, it would be difficult for some guys. What are you going to do with family members? My wife is pregnant, what am I going to do when she goes into labor—am I going to have to quarantine for two weeks after I come back? Obviously I can’t miss the birth of our first child. There are a lot of red flags, there are a lot of questions. Obviously we would have to agree on it as players. I think the mentality is that we want to get back as soon as we can. But it has to be realistic. It can’t be sitting in our hotel rooms, and just going from the field to the hotel room and not being able to do anything. I think that’s pretty crazy.”

 

QLE Posted: April 16, 2020 at 01:37 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: arizona bubble league, mike trout

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey open to state hosting post-pandemic MLB season

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said the state would be open to the idea of hosting all 30 teams should Major League Baseball push forward with an idea to play its season in empty spring training parks later this year.

“Two words that would allow the country and the state of Arizona to know that things were headed back to normal would be, ‘Play ball,’” Ducey said during a news conference on Tuesday afternoon.

Baseball has been exploring a number of possibilities for how to proceed with its delayed season once the coronavirus pandemic subsides. One idea is to quarantine all 30 teams in the Phoenix area while playing games at a variety of venues in the Valley, which features 10 spring training facilities, Chase Field, Phoenix Municipal Stadium and Brazell Field at Grand Canyon University.

Public health experts say the idea would constitute a massive logistical challenge in order to keep players, coaches and other personnel healthy while also keeping the local community safe. To that point, Ducey stressed that Arizona wouldn’t be ready to move forward with such an idea until the time is right.

 

QLE Posted: April 15, 2020 at 12:43 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: arizona bubble league

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

The Arizona-Florida Plan Creates a Solvable Scheduling Pickle

Last week, two competing plans for an alternate-site baseball season were leaked. The first was the so-called Arizona Plan: Send all 30 teams to Arizona, rotate games between the available fields, and play an abbreviated major league season with no in-person audience. That plan has its logistical pitfalls, but one of the few things the plan doesn’t alter is the existing divisional structure of baseball. Aside from a shorter season and its attendant complications, baseball would mostly work the way it always has: the Red Sox, Rays, and Yankees would attempt to club each other into submission, the AL Central would be full of rebuilding teams, and so on.

The second plan, the so-called Arizona-Florida plan, would be something else entirely. Instead of recreating the exact structure of the league in one city, this plan would place each team at their spring training facility. Many of the logistical issues from before would still need to be answered. Assuming those can be handled, however, there’s still one major twist: instead of existing divisions, the teams would be grouped by geographic proximity — and, of course, given that the existing setup isn’t 15 AL teams in one location and 15 NL teams in the other, the leagues would be scrambled.

....

First things first: how would an odd-numbered league work? Baseball has gone to interleague play in part to avoid this question: in a game where most every team plays most every day, having odd-numbered leagues won’t work. That’s why expansion was always done with two teams joining a single league at once; before the Rockies and Marlins were added, the AL had 14 teams to the NL’s 12. When the Diamondbacks and Devil Rays joined the majors in 1998, the Brewers were shifted to the National League to keep the numbers even — 16 NL teams and 14 AL.

When, in 2013, interleague play became a daily occurrence instead of a specific chunk of calendar, the Astros shifted to the AL, setting up our current 15-team leagues. But of course, the daily interleague play plan won’t work anymore; no one’s flying back and forth across the country in this plan, which is specifically designed to avoid flying back and forth across the country.

A further consideration of aspects of the current proposals concerning the 2020 season.

 

QLE Posted: April 14, 2020 at 01:22 AM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: 2020 season, arizona bubble league, florida, schedule

Monday, April 13, 2020

Should baseball come back this year?

And now, a few words considering the current proposal for the 2020 season:

This is a time of year typically spent with family. Many of us are celebrating Easter today. Many others have been celebrating Passover since Thursday. Whether it be a big Easter dinner or a Seder, or for any other holiday or occasion for that matter, we like to come together as family. Family is important.

That’s one of the many reasons that the various contingency plans being floated by MLB to resume the season in some capacity this year are bothering me. Whether it be the total lockdown in Arizona or playing out the season by continuing the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues, resumption of play would hinge on the players, coaches and all imaginable support staff would need to be stringently monitored and quarantined. There would need to be regular testing, daily (if not more often) temperature-taking, constant disinfection of all surfaces, and social distancing at all possible times. The Arizona plan outright calls for players to be separated from their families.

That’s no way to live. The players would be treated like livestock or robots, not like people. It’s putting profit before common sense. There would need to be a small army of supporting workers (drivers, trainers, doctors, cooks, nutritionists, etc.) who would deserve the exact same level of care. Those workers would deserve a level of pay that would be appropriate for putting their lives in harm’s way.

Stephanie Apstein of Sports Illustrated laid out all the problems better than I ever could. There are too many hurdles, too many loose ends, too many little cruelties.

 

QLE Posted: April 13, 2020 at 12:50 AM | 52 comment(s)
  Beats: 2020 season, arizona bubble league, commentary

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Phillies’ Zack Wheeler not for MLB’s proposed idea: ‘Not going to miss the birth of my first child’

Zack Wheeler was one of several players to capitalize on the salary windfall of last season, after spending the first part of his MLB career with now-division rival New York Mets, by signing a five-year, $118-million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. 

To make this offseason even better, Wheeler and his wife Dominique discovered they were going to become first-time parents. With their daughter due in July, it’s an occasion Wheeler is adamant he will not miss.

“I am not going to miss the birth of my first child. I don’t care,” Wheeler told NBC10 Friday. “I’m going to be there for her and the birth of my child. That’s a fact. I think anybody would do the same thing. Any dad. Whether I have to come back here (Atlanta) and be with her and miss two more weeks because I have to quarantine to play again, so be it.”

MLB officials this week have begun exploring options to return to playing baseball in a modified format, with teams, staff and essential personnel quarantined in Arizona and Florida.

 

QLE Posted: April 12, 2020 at 12:18 AM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: arizona bubble league, fatherhood, zack wheeler

Friday, April 10, 2020

Nats’ Ryan Zimmerman’s AP diary: Is baseball that important?

Putting every team in Arizona in May? There would be so many variables and so many things that would have to be worked out that it’s hard to fathom that it would work.

One example: I get to the field at 2 o’clock to play a 7 o’clock game at night. If we’re not going to be able to have any crossover between teams, then say we’re playing Game 3 of a tripleheader at Chase Field that day—how much time do they have between games to disinfect the entire clubhouse?

Do I have a locker? Or do I just show up with my uniform on, AAU travel ball style? And then I just go right out to the field with my bag to start the game? Then you’re going to have people getting hurt.

We don’t get there at 2 o’clock for a 7 o’clock game just to get a chance to hang out with our friends. We have a whole process that we go through to prepare and get our bodies ready to play so we don’t get injured.

A commentary on the latest proposal for the season, from someone who’d be directly impacted by these proposals.

 

QLE Posted: April 10, 2020 at 01:42 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: arizona bubble league, commentary, ryan zimmerman

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Baseball in Arizona: Could it Work?

In case you’ve been living under a rock — and if so, good for you, great distancing, take a bow — there’s been one major development in baseball in the past few days: per Jeff Passan, the league is reportedly in the early stages of formulating a plan that would see games played in empty stadiums in Arizona as soon as May or June. (MLB has said it is not committed to any specific plan at this time, and will prioritize public health and safety in its decision-making.)

This is a bold plan, one that feels very out of line with how other sporting events are reacting to COVID-19. Wimbledon, which takes place in July, has already been canceled. The Olympics, scheduled for August, have been delayed a year. A plan to start up a major sports undertaking months before those dates will be fraught with hurdles. Let’s cover some of those, along with the potential workarounds, while keeping in mind that the entire plan is subject to forces well beyond MLB’s control.

How Many Personnel Would Be Isolated?
The first sticking point in the plan is the sheer number of people the league would need to isolate. In his piece on the plan, Ken Rosenthal reported that league and MLBPA officials are discussing rosters in the 50-player range to allow for the injury- and performance-related promotions and substitutions that teams normally make. That’s 1,500 people in isolation right there, and that’s only players.

Would players with families be allowed to bring their loved ones with them? It’s hard to imagine union approval if families aren’t allowed into whatever housing facility the league uses. The alternative — leaving spouses, partners, and children completely cut off from players — sounds terrible right away, but it’s even more unthinkable given the strained state of national resources.

 

QLE Posted: April 09, 2020 at 01:45 AM | 38 comment(s)
  Beats: arizona bubble league

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Baseball Question of the Day: What do you think of the Arizona Bubble League idea?

To date all of these have been fun hypothetical baseball ideas from out of left field. This one is a bit more tied to the news.

This morning I wrote about the report that Major League Baseball is at least thinking about how to play something approaching a baseball season with all teams decamping to Arizona for something I’ve decided to call The Arizona Bubble League. I didn’t much care for that idea. Neither did some players. This, so far, is my favorite line about it from anyone:

That’s literary. That’s some Cormac McCarty stuff there, friendo.

Anyway, MLB backed off of the specifics of last night’s report in a statement later in the day, casting this as more of a “hey, there are no bad ideas in a brainstorming session,” kind of thing. And, fine, that’s fair. As I said on Twitter after that report came out: I think starting play in May via a complicated quarantine system is madness, but talking about how, eventually, baseball can come back is fair game. Just gotta be sensible about it, and the report from overnight did not reflect good sense.

There seem to be two questions here: what you think of the Arizona Bubble League (great name, BTW) proposal, and what proposals you have involving a return for Major League Baseball.

How would all of you answer these questions?

 

QLE Posted: April 08, 2020 at 12:41 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: arizona bubble league, questions

 

 

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