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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Inside Major League Baseball’s toughest game yet

On separate occasions in late March, representatives of sports unions, including the Major League Baseball Players Association, were told by administration officials that the threat of the virus was exaggerated and testing “was not the end-all, be-all,” as one union official put it, contradicting the advice of the White House’s own task force.

“We’re having to work to separate fact from fiction to make sure our guys are protected. It’s a very delicate dance,” a union source said….

“I wouldn’t want to put players in Atlanta’s ballpark,” said Beth Blauer, the executive director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Civic Impact, which specializes in the use of data to advise governments and nonprofits on best practices. “You have to determine where to play based on that modeling. You can’t bring players into hot spots. ... You’ll know between mid-May and June how devastating the decisions are and where the new hot spots are, potentially.”

Alex Fairly, CEO of Fairly Group, an Amarillo, Texas-based risk management firm whose clients include MLB and the NFL, served as chairman of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s Back to Work Task Force on Sports and Entertainment, which included representatives of the Astros and Houston Texans. The challenge of figuring how sports will be staged safely “fried my brain,” said Fairly, adding that the process caused him to lose sleep. “There are 8,000 issues. No one knows exactly what to do because this has never happened. It’s a true black swan moment.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 20, 2020 at 06:20 AM | 25 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: coronavirus

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   1. Captain Supporter Posted: May 20, 2020 at 08:19 PM (#5952518)
I love baseball but I'd be perfectly happy to see the season cancelled. It won't be anything resembling a real season in any case. While I know that on this site there is a great deal of anti-ownership sentiment, I personally find it particularly annoying to hear the Blake Snell's of the world whining about risking their lives when people making very little money are taking far more risks than he will ever take to care for others or to feed their families.
   2. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili (TeddyF.Ballgame) Posted: May 20, 2020 at 08:39 PM (#5952527)
While I know that on this site there is a great deal of anti-ownership sentiment, I personally find it particularly annoying to hear the Blake Snell's of the world whining about risking their lives when people making very little money are taking far more risks than he will ever take to care for others or to feed their families.


What does anti-ownership sentiment have to do with your feelings about Blake Snell and people making very little money?
   3. Captain Supporter Posted: May 20, 2020 at 09:48 PM (#5952540)
Anti-ownership usually equates to pro-players. i am fortunate enough to have a good career,, but I still am going to work each day. And I am having a hard time feeling for those players who are whining about risks and “getting theirs’, when nurses and grocery store clerks are taking far more risks than they ever will. Pretty simple, really.
   4. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: May 20, 2020 at 09:53 PM (#5952541)
but I still am going to work each day.


If you contract the disease and suffer permanent lung damage, which is far more common than death, will you still be able to do you job and get paid? Will nurses and grocery store clerks? Will professional athletes?
   5. The Duke Posted: May 20, 2020 at 10:18 PM (#5952546)
The lack of knowledge on this topic is astounding. The long term impacts are not well known but the issues appear to be confined to that same group that are at risk of dying: old, infirm, pre-existing, etc. Their infections if they don’t kill them can leave them with all kinds of permanent or semi-permanent issues especially if they ended up being intubated.

This has little or nothing to do with 20-30 year old ball players. Most wont get sick and if they do they won’t end up in an ICU. Saying that ballplayers risk permanent lung damage is just nonsense and not supported by any science.

Very few people who are out in the real world every day risk death or hospitalization. The stats on deaths and hospitalizations very clearly point to 75+, obesity and diabetes as the main drivers.


   6. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: May 20, 2020 at 10:20 PM (#5952547)
Good to know Dr. Duke.
   7. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: May 20, 2020 at 10:24 PM (#5952548)
Not just the old

At first, the virus was thought to be mostly a risk to older adults and people with chronic illnesses; its primary point of attack, the lungs. Then 30- and 40-years-olds with the virus began dying of strokes. Recently, a small number of infected children have died of a mysterious illness resembling Kawasaki disease.

Studies have found that damage from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease COVID-19, isn't limited to the lungs; it can include the heart, liver, kidneys, gastrointestinal system and bowels.

   8. Ron J Posted: May 21, 2020 at 06:30 AM (#5952567)
My counter to the "no real people will be harmed" argument is the New York Transit Authority workers death rate. They are not all elderly or infirm.

Also Georges Laraque. Didn't kill him but we are talking something that put a genuine tough guy (hockey enforcer -- granted a retied one but he's still in great shape) through the wringer. Not something I'd undergo willingly.

Professional athletes are not exactly risk adverse as a group (I mean one of the documented side effects of EPO is death and it took an effective test to deter athletes from using it) , so risk alone almost certainly won't deter them.
   9. Rally Posted: May 21, 2020 at 08:04 AM (#5952573)
They'll take great risks if there is some benefit to it. If COVID-19 had the same death rates as it does but could add a few dingers per year or a few MPH to your fastball, players would be lining up to lick the seats of the NYC subways.
   10. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: May 21, 2020 at 09:51 AM (#5952591)
A difference between baseball vs basketball/hockey is that those two sports have almost completed their regular seasons, and are pretty much trying to figure out how to do a playoff structure. They also have salary caps that base the owners/players split on a percentage of whatever the revenue is, and both sports seem to have a more trusting relationship about agreeing on that base revenue figure than baseball ever would.

With baseball, there is something odd about trying to play a complete season in the midst of a pandemic. It is unfortunate timing for baseball that everything hit the fan in the U.S. right as their season was about to start. Football gets the benefit of time to figure out what to do; basketball and hockey got through most of their season.

But if the NCAA can just cancel March Madness, then MLB can cancel the 2020 season. Which is what will happen.
   11. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 21, 2020 at 10:08 AM (#5952593)
A difference between baseball vs basketball/hockey is that those two sports have almost completed their regular seasons, and are pretty much trying to figure out how to do a playoff structure.


I would have thought this was the obvious thing to do: call the 2019-20 season over and figure out a way to play some playoffs. But the NBA and NHL are both apparently still trying to figure out a way to actually go ahead and finish up their regular seasons this summer. I'm not a huge fan of either league, but I really don't get this. Try to play some playoffs, absolutely. But play a dozen-ish mostly irrelevant regular-season games first? I can't see what the point would be.
   12. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: May 21, 2020 at 10:40 AM (#5952599)
Try to play some playoffs, absolutely. But play a dozen-ish mostly irrelevant regular-season games first? I can't see what the point would be.


Maybe to get the players in shape for the playoffs?
   13. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: May 21, 2020 at 12:55 PM (#5952650)
12 has it. The NBA players want some games before the playoffs and the owners want any revenue they can get. Cannot speak to hockey. But I know about the NBA discussions to a degree

MLB's financial solution appears to be expanding and collecting a huge expansion fee to share with the existing clubs. That news came out late yesterday
   14. Karl from NY Posted: May 21, 2020 at 02:19 PM (#5952693)
But play a dozen-ish mostly irrelevant regular-season games first? I can't see what the point would be.

Several reasons:

Let the teams currently in seeds #9 and up get a fair shot to earn their way into a playoff berth. Including equalizing the number of games played per team, which is currently skewed by as many as 5 or 6.

Fulfilling TV sports contracts, which someone said require a minimum of 70 games total to count as a full season.

Serve as a practice ground to get players back into shape and the flow of things before the playoffs.

It also serves as a testing ground for the bubble. It gives you a chance to see if anyone and how many turn up with Covid, and if they transmit it within the bubble before being identified and isolated, to give some idea of what to expect and have to handle through the actual playoffs.
   15. Mayor Blomberg Posted: May 21, 2020 at 02:29 PM (#5952699)
14 - Sounds good!
   16. Jay Z Posted: May 21, 2020 at 07:17 PM (#5952791)
Here's a counter angle.

Restrictions are being eased and places are opening up. Bars and restaurants are opening up, churches are opening up. Maybe with restrictions, but they are opening up.

I think MLB games with a packed crowd are dangerous for the fans, less so for the players. Particularly if it is players with precautions, sit apart, dress somewhere else... that's a lot less risk than status quo ante.

But if the players don't play, they are going to have idle time and do other things. They aren't going to be 100% sheltering in place, especially if other things are going to open up. They're going to go to bars and churches and throw parties and do things that will put them at HIGHER risk than playing MLB with no fans and precautions.

At that point, if places are staying open unless there's a specific outbreak, it's harder to make the argument that fanless MLB is a no go. Eliminating the 4th and only the 4th of the top ten risks is a lesser priority than eliminating the top three, and if the top three are untouchable, seems like a risk you're willing to take.

As a side note, odds of a player dying in a vehicular accident are higher than one dying of COVID-19 IMO.
   17. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: May 21, 2020 at 10:16 PM (#5952812)
MLB's financial solution appears to be expanding and collecting a huge expansion fee to share with the existing clubs. That news came out late yesterday


These guys are billion-with-a-B-aires, you'd think they could just eat this rather than put a new team in Portland that they're going to have to support with revenue sharing.
   18. Ron J Posted: May 22, 2020 at 06:38 AM (#5952839)
#17 As I think should be clear, I trust MLB as far as I can throw them -- and my arm ain't what it was.

Still, I think it's too dismissive to say that they can eat this. We're talking large sums of money during a time when they will be under financial stress on other fronts. They won't be eating KD unless they happen to like it, but there are likely ownership groups facing short term cash flow issues.

Yeah they can borrow, but that's not free either.

This is a short term solution (if it actually happens of course) that may cause some long term pain. But sometimes you just have to do what you can to get through the short term.
   19. . . . . . . Posted: May 22, 2020 at 07:38 AM (#5952843)
Very few people who are out in the real world every day risk death or hospitalization. The stats on deaths and hospitalizations very clearly point to 75+, obesity and diabetes as the main drivers.


It blows my mind that people believe this. The lower bound on the IFR based upon NY seroprevalence and death rate is 0.1-.2% in age 20-45. One in five hundred to one in a thousand. With a hospitalization rate 1-2 orders of magnitude higher than that. That is ###### up. If it was a murder rate, we would be flipping our ####. To put it in baseball terms - the risk of dying from a pitch to the head without a helmet is clearly lower, for MLB players.

I am admittedly shrill on this because covid got into my (white collar) workplace and me and a number of my colleagues had symptommatic infections. But make no mistake, even in this pool of a few dozen healthy, 25-55 year olds, we had one guy who appears to have mild long term lung damage (early 40s, fit, no preexisting conditions) and one woman who was too sick to work for 3 weeks (health, mid 30s, no preexisting conditions). Both still cough on conference calls. It’s been 2.5 months. One of their siblings spent 10 days in the hospital - 3 days for breathing issues, got out for a day; then started throwing clots like Koufax curveballs. Damn near died. Back into the hospital she went for a week of IV blood thinners. Such joy.

Yes, it’s finicky and yes, people can dodge it. My wife appears to have been asymptomatic. I just had a lousy flu. So did several of my friends. But for a meaningful percentage of people at all ages - meaningful enough that you’ll know several of them once it gets loose in your social circle - it is dangerous AF.

   20. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 22, 2020 at 09:28 AM (#5952860)

These guys are billion-with-a-B-aires, you'd think they could just eat this rather than put a new team in Portland that they're going to have to support with revenue sharing.


While I agree that many of them are rich and should just eat it, the fact is many are not really billionaires, they are overleveraged consortiums of investors who will be looking to stem their losses with expansion fees.
   21. Ron J Posted: May 22, 2020 at 11:48 AM (#5952914)
20 Or they might be rich but heavily leveraged. Or answerable to investment firms or other investors.

Sometimes the vast wealth is mostly theoretical. Attempts to convert it to real money can be problematic -- particularly in a climate with a lot of nervous investors.

Again, mostly first world problems but real nevertheless.
   22. cardsfanboy Posted: May 22, 2020 at 04:53 PM (#5953011)
A difference between baseball vs basketball/hockey is that those two sports have almost completed their regular seasons, and are pretty much trying to figure out how to do a playoff structure. They also have salary caps that base the owners/players split on a percentage of whatever the revenue is, and both sports seem to have a more trusting relationship about agreeing on that base revenue figure than baseball ever would.

With baseball, there is something odd about trying to play a complete season in the midst of a pandemic. It is unfortunate timing for baseball that everything hit the fan in the U.S. right as their season was about to start. Football gets the benefit of time to figure out what to do; basketball and hockey got through most of their season.

But if the NCAA can just cancel March Madness, then MLB can cancel the 2020 season. Which is what will happen.


Exactly... I only have one real sport I follow that is baseball, and I'll follow the others when it suits me, but I don't go out of my way... but at the same time, anything we do now isn't "MLB Baseball"... so if we decide to do something, let's make sure it's safe and we have zero regrets next year. With NBA/NHL you have nearly completed seasons, if they just started the playoffs today with a decent amount of certainty of safeguards, the relative risk is probably worth it overall... you do everything you can, --- empty stadiums(heck pipe in speakers from fans at home if you can find a way to do that) test everyone you can, and simplify it as much as possible so that the risk is minimal... you'll never be able to this with 100% safety, but at least you could do some of this to get a finality to the season, pleasure to the fans etc.

People might say that even one death from this would be a crime, and the truth is that we are opening the stores, and I guarantee you that we'll have multiple thousands of deaths from that decision, it's going to happen, we all know it, but if an organization is doing everything it can to minimize the risk, in this particular case I would support it. NHL/NBA playoffs should basically expand the pool by two or so teams so that the bubble teams make it, and then you play in empty arenas, with doctors supervising everything, quarantining the players and families and support staff, you speed through it.... day on, day off, shorten the rounds if you think it's necessary etc... monitor the players/families/staff... etc... but it could be done for those two sports with relative confidence.... but an 81 game season with baseball... basically double the roster size of those sports, and trippling of the months to do it... not really seeing the need for that.

Honestly at this point, you just do a double header tournament for a month and call it a day. You could probably control some of the risk acceptably enough if you did that.
   23. cardsfanboy Posted: May 22, 2020 at 05:09 PM (#5953013)
Thinking about a tournament...... how could we do a month long tournament (or probably more accurately a 6 week tournament) with all 30 teams?

Do you just do a single game against every team for 29 days, and reseed based upon record into a march madness type of bracket...30 teams play a three game series.... leaving 15 teams, add in the team that got eliminated with the best record overall record, 16 teams... so now we are at roughly 35 days or so into this... 16 teams left, seeded based upon how they have done so far.... 3 games for the first round.... puts us at 39 days(day off) and 8 teams....(at this point it becomes affordable to go to longer schedules) so 5 game series, followed by two 7 game series where we do the traditional pacing... Effectively this is the 44 game schedule or whatever that was proposed... it's a horrible idea, as it's not mlb... but as long as you don't label it mlb, and instead add extra labels such as mlb covid19 tournament or something better but clearly differentiating it from true mlb.... then it might have fan value... The WBC has been fairly popular and it's not a seasonal thing.
   24. Russ Posted: May 23, 2020 at 06:28 AM (#5953076)
As a side note, odds of a player dying in a vehicular accident are higher than one dying of COVID-19 IMO.


Even using NYC COVID data, they are this is true. Reported COVID deaths in 18-45 age group are 14 per 100k; roughly the same age group for 2017 vehicle occupant fatalities in the US is around 40 per 100k.
   25. Russ Posted: May 23, 2020 at 07:13 AM (#5953078)
Whoops.. should be they are about the same.

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