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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) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: arizona bubble league

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   1. Starring RMc as Bradley Scotchman Posted: April 09, 2020 at 08:06 AM (#5937778)
Know this: Regardless of what MLB does, people -- maybe players and/or coaches -- will die. And MLB will get blamed, and probably sued. What a mess.
   2. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: April 09, 2020 at 09:11 AM (#5937789)
From a business perspective I love that MLB is putting together options for themselves and thinking outside the box like this. I’d hope every business is taking this approach. That said I just can’t see a 2020 season getting going before July 1 at best and I think it’s as likely as not that the season gets cancelled. But hey if you have a business you have to make these kinds of plans.

I just can’t quite figure out what the moment that sends people back to normalcy is going to be. Maybe it’s going to be gradual but someone has to be first and for the reasons RMc lays out in #1 I think there is going to be a lot internal pressure not to be first. I suspect every sports league wants to be a close second in coming back. Let someone else get the attention and risk but come back as soon as possible once someone else has made sure it’s OK.
   3. Starring RMc as Bradley Scotchman Posted: April 09, 2020 at 09:23 AM (#5937794)
Let someone else get the attention and risk but come back as soon as possible once someone else has made sure it’s OK.

Baseball is famously traditional, conservative and risk-averse. (Maybe they could slip Major League Soccer a couple of million to come back first and take the hit? I mean, come on, soccer fans kill each other all the time, anyway! What's a couple more corpses, more or less...?)
   4. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 09, 2020 at 11:35 AM (#5937823)
Know this: Regardless of what MLB does, people -- maybe players and/or coaches -- will die. And MLB will get blamed, and probably sued. What a mess.

As long as they take reasonable precautions, it should be fine. No human activity can be held to a zero death threshold.
   5. puck Posted: April 09, 2020 at 12:22 PM (#5937849)
Maybe they could slip Major League Soccer a couple of million to come back first and take the hit?


The pressure on MLS is very different. They pretty much need to play with fans in the stand because so little of their revenue comes from TV contracts.
   6. Rally Posted: April 09, 2020 at 01:04 PM (#5937867)
2019 regular season baseballs + Arizona summer means somebody might break Bonds’ record. Even if they only play half a season.
   7. winnipegwhip Posted: April 09, 2020 at 01:32 PM (#5937884)
What are the limits on support staff. Are you locking down the players families or are the players not going to have any contact with their loved ones for a few months? What about staffing the hotels or boarding facilities? What about broadcast crews? (Talking heads could be remote but camera people and technicians need to be onsite.) Umpiring crews? Support staff? and do all these people need to be separated from their families.

There is a lot of variables. And the worst thing that could happen is they get this thing going and have to shut it down again.
   8. Jose Canusee Posted: April 09, 2020 at 01:41 PM (#5937892)
There is the bit about taking away other people's jobs but I would think that some of the baseball family people would want to do some work rather than go to the ballpark for three hours and back to the hotel, even if it means the wife of a $5M/year player is throwing pillowcases in the laundry. I mean you would have 100 kids lining up for a chance to drive the lawnmower. I think I read someone like Lefty Grove saying that he had to count tickets on his off days and on a big day that was harder work than pitching nine innings.
   9. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 09, 2020 at 02:19 PM (#5937912)
The Arizona Plan might work if it can be relaxed as the season goes on. I don’t think you can put everyone in a tight bubble for ~100 games, or that it would work well enough that you could continue if conditions elsewhere haven’t improved enough to relax the bubble standard. If MLB thought it could go from a tight bubble, to looser bubbles, and then socially-distanced spectators* in Arizona, it’s worth a try, and you could get a ~ 100-game schedule if they can start by July.

Non-Arizona games may be a bridge too far for 2020. You’d have to work around any remaining hotspots and potentially deal with a variety of local restrictions. Once started, it’d be tough to tweak the schedule to play elsewhere on short-notice, and I don’t see how anyone can confidently predict that conditions will be conducive to playing in all home parks or even spring training sites very soon. Maybe it’ll look different in May.

*I’m not sure socially-distanced spectators would even be worth the effort. You might be able to get 15-25% of capacity, spread out throughout the stadium. Can you do entry & exit, concessions, and restrooms that way? Might need more staff than for a normal games.
   10. The Duke Posted: April 09, 2020 at 07:09 PM (#5938062)
So many nervous nellies out there. I’ve read comments in so many places on this and they are 80-90% negative and it takes all forms: all the players will get sick/get other people sick/die, logistics are impossible, baseball is not that important, players will have to live like monks, and on and on

First, the initial phase of this disease is over and by May 1 this will all look different and more positive. Second, when you are forced into a hole Like we have been I think it is hard to fathom coming out of your hole. Third, with nobody in the stands, the logistics arent really that hard. Are there issues to work through, yes. But think just a little bit - this isn’t that hard. Every day in normal times we load up cruise ships with 5000+ people. It’s easily do-able to create a mini-space like this. Fourth, sports are actually incredibly important to morale/mental health.

So I encourage all of you to be positive, be constructive. I’m sure the leagues are watching the feedback. Tell them you want them to get creative to bring baseball back. Thank god they are trying to do this.

We may go in and out of quarantine for 12-18 months. Let’s make the best of it
   11. Walt Davis Posted: April 09, 2020 at 07:22 PM (#5938066)
FWIW, Australia rugby has announced a target date of May 28 although they haven't specified how they're going to do it yet. Australia has had some combination of better luck, better health system and better approach (or better timing) than most countries so the virus has not been out of control here so it's far more feasible here -- still remains to be seen if they can do it (or will be allowed to).
   12. JRVJ Posted: April 09, 2020 at 10:33 PM (#5938114)
While I understand that Arizona has a number of facilities close to one another, doesn't Florida also have spring training facilities plus 2 MLB stadiums?

I realize the distances are larger, but there is such a thing as helicopters and it might be better to have one league in Arizona and another one in Florida, no?
   13. The Duke Posted: April 09, 2020 at 11:56 PM (#5938130)
My guess is that they feel like the logistical challenge (driving distance) and weather (HUMID and rainy )make Florida a challenge. But it certainly could be done. With only one league there, you only need 6-7 stadiums and i think you can do that on the west coast of FLA only which really makes the logistical issues go away.
   14. Starring RMc as Bradley Scotchman Posted: April 10, 2020 at 11:31 AM (#5938224)
So many nervous nellies out there.

Yeah, see, you're thinking like a normal, rational person and not like an activist/lawyer type. People like that punch far, far above their weight.

First, the initial phase of this disease is over and by May 1 this will all look different and more positive.

Or not. Even so, what if the flu comes back in September? "Major League Baseball announced the cancellation of the 2020 World Series today, as twelve Yankees and eight members of the Dodgers are now in intensive care..." Yikes!

We may go in and out of quarantine for 12-18 months. Let’s make the best of it.

You can't play any major professional sport under these conditions. The best you can make of a situation like this is, "Don't die."
   15. The Duke Posted: April 10, 2020 at 01:54 PM (#5938299)
What if an asteroid hits the earth? Can’t let life be controlled by what - ifs.

Flip through all 50 states death statistics. Most of the deaths, and I don’t want to minimize that at all, are in people 70 and above plus people with Pre-existing conditions. 20 dodgers/Yankees are not going to end up in intensive care. They’ll have a cough and a fever if that much. In the rare case of being a bit sicker they may be sick for 10-14 days. No more baseball players will die from covid than they do from auto Accidents, drug overdose, heart conditions etc.

If they learn how to play in quarantine conditions now, they can keep playing (assuming Govt approval).
   16. . Posted: April 10, 2020 at 01:59 PM (#5938302)
They'd be way better off and way more in tune with reality trying to play in the regular stadiums where there are fans, but they're kept appropriate social distances from each other -- i.e. one seat open, the two or three next to it closed off. Something like that might -- might -- be doable by April 2021. There's virtually no chance for normal pro sports this year as there's no chance the requisite authorities in all the relevant jurisdictions are going to sign off on mass gatherings under their jurisdiction. Some might, but all? No chance. Golf with no galleries is as close as we're going to get.

   17. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 10, 2020 at 02:20 PM (#5938316)
I realize the distances are larger, but there is such a thing as helicopters and it might be better to have one league in Arizona and another one in Florida, no?
Apparently, that’s under consideration, too - MLB Has Discussed Realignment For 2020:
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that one proposal would see the traditional American League and National League scrapped for the 2020 season only — and replaced by the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues in which the clubs play during Spring Training. The 15 teams with spring facilities in Arizona and the 15 with spring facilities in Florida could each call their spring parks home, playing games in empty parks in realigned divisions.
. . .
Nightengale suggests, for instance, that with the AL and NL designations scrapped, a universal DH could be implemented for one season. That’d seemingly put would-be NL clubs that hadn’t prepped for that change at a bit of a disadvantage, although concessions will surely have to be made by many parties if a season is to be played at all.
That’d be more entertaining, but logistically more challenging, than the Arizona Plan, given the way the Grapefruit League is spread out on both coasts of Florida. I suppose that is somewhat offset by playing ‘Division games’ within the clusters of Spring Training sites.

EDIT: If MLB really wants to be creative, there’s no reason all the teams have to be assigned their own spring training facility as their ‘homes Park’. Sub the Braves & Phillies for the Astros & Cardinals and you have the NL East in the West Palm Beach-Jupiter-Port St. Lucie cluster.
   18. Starring RMc as Bradley Scotchman Posted: April 10, 2020 at 03:22 PM (#5938353)
What if an asteroid hits the earth?

If that happens, I'm guessing we'll have much bigger problems than sports.

No more baseball players will die from covid than they do from auto Accidents, drug overdose, heart conditions etc.

Wanna bet your career/reputation on that? Yeah, me neither. And it doesn't even matter if a player dies of this: what if a cute, biracial, differentially-abled, six-year-old girl dies after attending a game at Deathtrap Stadium? Torches and pitchforks, that's what.
   19. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 10, 2020 at 03:24 PM (#5938356)
what if a cute, biracial, differentially-abled, six-year-old girl dies
Seriously? You're really posting that?
   20. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 10, 2020 at 03:32 PM (#5938364)
what if a cute, biracial, differentially-abled, six-year-old girl dies after attending a game at Deathtrap Stadium? Torches and pitchforks, that's what.
If restrictions loosen up enough for fans to attend MLB games, there will be a lot of other things opening up, too. Going to be difficult to trace any new cases back to just one activity. That’s not to say MLB should rush back, but I don’t think they risk that much if they implement a phased opening that is OKed by public health officials, although there’s certainly no guarantee that they get such a green light any time soon.
   21. JRVJ Posted: April 10, 2020 at 03:46 PM (#5938375)
17, yeah, I read it.

While the logistics would be more complex, it would make sense (*) from the standpoint of better climate for the Eastern and Midwest time zone prime time games.

(*) Nothing makes sense in the COVID-19 world. At this point, I don't mind these mental exercises, because the poobahs at MLB have nothing else to do, so why not think outside the box? if nothing comes of it, no harm, no foul.
   22. Blastin Posted: April 10, 2020 at 04:01 PM (#5938385)
I like the grapefruit cactus idea. They can get from coast to coast without stopping. They'll have to play clusters of games.

As for "what about hotel workers," there are hotels here in NYC open now. I live above one and there are medical volunteers there.

IF (big if) there is widespread quick-result testing, and you can test the players every few days (and then if one tests postive, test everyone around him), you could do something.


But orange man doesn't want testing sooooo
   23. The Duke Posted: April 10, 2020 at 04:45 PM (#5938409)
We’ve run 2.4 million known tests in about a month. And far more that have been run by private labs not that are not making the official counts. politico runs a great tracker site where you can see this. Everyone at the podium including the President has been talking up more robust real time testing. It’s not here yet but on its way, Don’t let your hatred get in the way of the actual facts. It’s been slow no doubt but we’ve never done anything like this before
   24. Starring RMc as Bradley Scotchman Posted: April 10, 2020 at 06:01 PM (#5938439)
what if a cute, biracial, differentially-abled, six-year-old girl dies

Seriously? You're really posting that?


What, you got something against cute, biracial, differentially-abled, six-year-old girls? Geez, Primer turned into a right-wing hate website so gradually, I never even noticed...!
   25. Mayor Blomberg Posted: April 10, 2020 at 06:16 PM (#5938453)
And far more that have been run by private labs not that are not making the official counts.


link for that claim of non-reporting, please?
   26. The Duke Posted: April 10, 2020 at 09:37 PM (#5938512)
It’s talked about all the time in the presidential news conferences.
   27. Sunday silence Posted: April 11, 2020 at 02:46 AM (#5938552)
IF (big if) there is widespread quick-result testing, and you can test the players every few days (and then if one tests postive, test everyone around him), you could do something.


Like shutting down the league...
   28. Mayor Blomberg Posted: April 11, 2020 at 12:04 PM (#5938599)
26: If that is the case (and I doubt it these things may not be reported daily to states of CDC but there are still reporting obligations) then wouldn't that mean there are more confirmed cases as well as tests done?
   29. The Duke Posted: April 11, 2020 at 03:27 PM (#5938645)
All the positive cases get reported. In many labs negative cases don’t get reported. What I have read suggests that this gap is closing and it’s not nearly as bad as it was 7-10 days ago. I suspect it is self-correcting as each day goes by and the states ask for more of that data but my reading is that negative cases are still underreported

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/some-states-are-reporting-incomplete-covid-19-results-blurring-the-full-picture/. This is old but describes the issue
   30. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 11, 2020 at 06:19 PM (#5938689)
One problem with using Spring Training sites that would have to be overcome is that both the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues have 15 teams. They could work in an “interleague” game every day, but that would increase the travel considerably and complicate the logistics. Having teams rotate “bye series” doesn’t seem practical, either. The likely fix is that one team moves to the Grapefruit League, using a recently abandoned Spring Training location (Braves site @ Disney?), sharing what had previously been a single team facility, or using a college facility. The Reds or Indians may be the best candidates - Cactus League Eastern Time Zone teams that might prefer relocating so they can play during their normal broadcast hours.
   31. Mayor Blomberg Posted: April 11, 2020 at 06:57 PM (#5938695)
Thanks Duke!

ETA: From the grades it looks like the numbers are much better now; at least if "reporting all commercial tests" means what I think it does.
   32. rr: calming the thread down with my arms Posted: April 11, 2020 at 06:58 PM (#5938696)
Seriously? You're really posting that?


RMc is an OTP-type guy who brings the whiny and aggrieved anti-PC righty thing here, instead of keeping it there. Most of the righties selling that have smartened up enough not to do that here anymore.
   33. Quaker Posted: April 11, 2020 at 10:28 PM (#5938730)
RMc is an OTP-type guy who brings the whiny and aggrieved anti-PC righty thing here, instead of keeping it there. Most of the righties selling that have smartened up enough not to do that here anymore.


The overwhelming majority of political commentary on this site comes from the left. It's not close.

Honestly, there might be more comments from the lefties noting that they've blocked various right-leaning posters than there are actual political comments from the right.
   34. rr: calming the thread down with my arms Posted: April 11, 2020 at 10:54 PM (#5938736)
The overwhelming majority of political commentary on this site comes from the left. It's not close.


Even if this were true, it has jack to do with my point, which is that the kind of stuff RMc posts has been moved to the off-site OTP, where there may be still be some Righty Culture Warriors around. He still does it here, however, and it lands with many about like Clapper's posts do, as you saw. There were several RCWs around here back in the day.

As to what you are referring to now, that is, I assume:
1) A few people saying on the COVID-19 thread that they ignore SBB and Clapper. SBB is an anti-PC cultural warfare type with a lot of people who can't stand him for various reasons, but he actually does not self-identify as a righty. Clapper often does the same thing in the COVID-19 thread that he always did in OTP, and that crowd is mostly not into it.
2) A few guys in the COVID thread who clearly hate Trump, and are being loud about what they see as his blunders in handling the pandemic, but that is not the same kind of thing as what RMc posted in this thread, and the COVID thread is mostly civil and informative.


   35. Starring RMc as Bradley Scotchman Posted: April 12, 2020 at 09:54 AM (#5938798)
RMc is an OTP-type guy who brings the whiny and aggrieved anti-PC righty thing here, instead of keeping it there.

I would've thought that something as ridiculously over-the-top as "cute, biracial, differentially-abled, six-year-old girl" would be recognized as the silly snark it obviously was. Wrong again.

The overwhelming majority of political commentary on this site comes from the left. It's not close.

And that's OK. It's also OK for the other side to get their licks in once in awhile. As Bill James once wrote, "Nobody's opinion is "too wrong" to be heard. We are not required to shove someone else's words back down their throat."
   36. Baldrick Posted: April 12, 2020 at 10:50 AM (#5938808)
Please close this thread. Thanks!
   37. . Posted: April 12, 2020 at 10:54 AM (#5938809)
Those looking for a safe space really should look elsewhere. And grow up. Grown ups learn how to play well with others. In fact, it's really not that much of a stretch to say that it's a marker of adulthood and maturity and full development. It's only children who find that emotionally troubling and vexing and tumultuous.

   38. Starring RMc as Bradley Scotchman Posted: April 12, 2020 at 12:08 PM (#5938822)
Please close this thread. Thanks!

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