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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Would MLB Be Better Off in a Bubble? Experts Say ... Maybe

“The Twins and the Rockies have different public health leaders and different public health perspectives and, quite frankly, are in different places in the coronavirus outbreak right now than the Rangers and the Diamondbacks,” says Dr. Dawn Comstock, a sports epidemiologist at the Colorado School of Public Health. “You’re going to have to deal with different public health mandates.”

Compare this to the other major leagues about to start play. The NBA, WNBA, and MLS will have their bubbles in Florida. The NHL is in the process of picking its two hub cities, and the NWSL will be in Utah. These “bubbles” will see players isolated in one environment for weeks or months, with minimal movement in or out, and all basic needs met inside. Of course, no bubble will be flawless: “That’s an ideal circumstance that may work on Mars,” says Dr. Schaffner. “But it’s unlikely to work in the United States.” It also has potentially serious ramifications for players’ and staffers’ mental health and general well-being. In terms of planning, however, it offers one cohesive environment, operating in one community. That’s significantly different from MLB.

“It’s sort of a pick-your-poison situation,” Dr. Binney says. “You could centralize all the risk. But if that city explodes, then your whole league is in trouble. Or do you want to accept the more dispersed risk, where one of your teams is probably going to be in trouble at any given time, but maybe not all of you will have to shut down?”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 24, 2020 at 11:32 AM | 34 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: coronavirus

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   1. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: June 24, 2020 at 01:23 PM (#5959254)
Or do you want to accept the more dispersed risk, where one of your teams is probably going to be in trouble at any given time, but maybe not all of you will have to shut down?”


It appears baseball is the only sports trying to play this summer that is not centralizing the games. If you believe that this concept will lead to "one of your teams is probably going to be in trouble at any given time", then that sounds pretty awful.

In a 60-game season, where it is probable that a number of teams will have outbreaks at any given time, then the season is likely playing Oregon Trail as a kid: If you can avoid getting cholera or typhoid fever on your way out west, you probably win the game!

And if you're the team that is "lucky" enough to run into a bunch of teams that get nailed with COVID, then do you get a bunch of forfeited wins? Or do you just play a lot of teams' AAA talent?
   2. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 24, 2020 at 01:27 PM (#5959259)
NY just put travel restrictions on anyone coming from AZ, FL, TX, and WA, among other states. The Yankees already have players in Florida in spring training.
   3. Mayor Blomberg Posted: June 24, 2020 at 02:35 PM (#5959278)
WA? Really?
   4. Tin Angel Posted: June 24, 2020 at 05:51 PM (#5959323)
This would just give everyone an excuse to cheat at Trivial Pursuit.
   5. Walt Davis Posted: June 24, 2020 at 06:04 PM (#5959326)
Sports epidemiologist?
   6. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: June 24, 2020 at 07:15 PM (#5959339)
Sports epidemiologist?


I'm assuming this is someone who thinks sports is more important than social distancing, like the epidemiologists who think that protesting is more important than social distancing.
   7. Astroenteritis Posted: June 24, 2020 at 09:46 PM (#5959351)
the season is likely playing Oregon Trail as a kid: If you can avoid getting cholera or typhoid fever on your way out west, you probably win the game!


This is the best description I've seen of the insanity that is about to ensue.
   8. RJ in TO Posted: June 24, 2020 at 09:53 PM (#5959353)
NY just put travel restrictions on anyone coming from AZ, FL, TX, and WA, among other states. The Yankees already have players in Florida in spring training.

And Canada still has restrictions on entry and exit to the country from the US, for which MLB would need to seek a waiver. The Jays are apparently looking to play in Toronto, but the recent news about cases of COVID-19 in their camp aren't going to encourage the Canadian government to let them in.
   9. RJ in TO Posted: June 24, 2020 at 09:56 PM (#5959354)
And if you're the team that is "lucky" enough to run into a bunch of teams that get nailed with COVID, then do you get a bunch of forfeited wins? Or do you just play a lot of teams' AAA talent?

As there's no minor league ball this year, you'll likely be playing whoever is still in the extended extended spring training camp, who are probably just as likely to have COVID-19 as whoever else on the team. So you might instead end up playing the other teams' coaches, as I'm not sure where that AAA talent is going to come from.
   10. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 25, 2020 at 12:01 AM (#5959374)
the season is likely playing Oregon Trail as a kid: If you can avoid getting cholera or typhoid fever on your way out west, you probably win the game!


This is the best description I've seen of the insanity that is about to ensue.


I know you guys are using gallows humor saracasm, but holy #### Bob Nightengale wrote it earnestly.


This season will be a survival of the fittest, and perhaps the luckiest, with the healthiest team the last one standing.


   11. Mayor Blomberg Posted: June 25, 2020 at 12:23 AM (#5959379)
The use of an elevator isn’t prohibited, but MLB is requesting all players to have low-level rooms, and use the stairs.
   12. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 25, 2020 at 12:41 AM (#5959380)
Better idea: Book the players into motels where the room doors open to the parking lot.
   13. John Northey Posted: June 25, 2020 at 03:08 AM (#5959383)
I think the smart move at this point is to put teams into 3 hub cities ala the NHL - East teams share NY (2 ML parks), Central share Chicago (2 ML parks), West share either SF/Oakland or LA/Anaheim. Makes it easy to schedule, keep teams in a tight bubble, should be easy to find a quality hotel you can just take over as well (big enough centers). With 2 parks you can have up to 6 games in a day (noon, 4 PM, 8 PM gives enough time) Actually, given the right locations you could get 3 or 4 parks potentially.

East: NY Yankees/Mets, Phillies, O's and Nationals are all fairly close to each other
Central: Milwaukee, Cubs, White Sox parks are close
West: Dodgers, Angels, Padres are reasonably close

So there you get 3+ parks for each area - so up to 9 games a day if needed (rainouts) but more likely 5 a day, 2 in each of 2 parks and 1 in one park - all playing at 8 PM local time plus 1 PM games thus spreading it out and giving a spread of games starting from 1 PM until 11 PM Eastern time. Great for TV. Could have some afternoon games start at 4 PM if thought to be better, or night ones at 7 PM. All depends what will get the best ratings. Minimize travel to minimize risk.

IMO having teams play at their regular home parks to start is pure stupidity ala how COVID has been handled down there from the start so I fully expect it to be done in the stupid way. Hopefully not too many players on my favorite team (Blue Jays) don't catch it.
   14. Walt Davis Posted: June 25, 2020 at 04:19 AM (#5959386)
C'mon #13, that was my gig last week. I also noted there are AAA parks dotted nearby many of those places too -- Iowa and Indy (and Det not that far away). Cincy, Louisville and Columbus not that far. Milw had a roof and Indy has a dome for the playoffs (if you can schedule it around the NFL). Plenty of AAA along the Eastern seaboard still yeah?

But with 5 teams in CA, 2 in TX, 1 in AZ, 1 in WA -- we might be lucky to have a Western division in either league.
   15. Sunday silence Posted: June 25, 2020 at 05:42 AM (#5959389)
As Walt predicted: they are going to put some players in the stands instead of in the dugout. I still wonder what the arrangement will be for the bullpens. Can they modify them to allow access from the stands? Wow what a shitshow this is.
   16. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: June 25, 2020 at 07:21 AM (#5959390)
With 2 parks you can have up to 6 games in a day (noon, 4 PM, 8 PM gives enough time) Actually, given the right locations you could get 3 or 4 parks potentially.
In a semi-sane world this would make MLB implement pace of play reforms to keep the game length down, so the locker rooms can be fully cleared and sterilized and such between games. If MLB can impose the DH on the NL in the interest of public health then it should definitely force the batter to stay in the damn box and force the pitcher to throw the damn ball on the same grounds.
   17. Walt Davis Posted: June 25, 2020 at 07:37 AM (#5959391)
Hey MLB, while you're reading my mad rantings, have I mentioned how crucial it is to the success of MLB and humanity itself that Mike Trout be transferred to the Cubs at no cost? Also that clearly I am due some sort of honorarium ... say 3 years of MLB min salary.

Apparently it's players "not expected to play in the game" won't sit in the dugout. Also you have to supply your own rosin bag and batting donut so buy your batting donut stock now before Kelly Loeffler grabs it all up. You also have go back to get your own glove if you're stuck on base when the inning ends -- I'm hoping we'll see players just dropping their gloves in foul territory.

And mascots are allowed but not on the field. Also players are not allowed to take public transportation to the game. (Uber is OK so I assume a private car service is OK.)

I did see that any player can choose to skip the season. If they're in a "high-risk" group (no idea who qualifies -- any diabetics currently playing?) they still get full pro-rata and service time; otherwise they give up salary and service time but pick up next year. It will be interesting to see how many of the big contract guys decide to opt out.

Anyway, per the WaPo article, the main public health issue is that there aren't strict rules or even specific guidelines of what to do when off work. Obviously there's only so much any employer can do in that scneario.

Some of the details.
   18. Walt Davis Posted: June 25, 2020 at 07:45 AM (#5959392)
I know MLB doesn't plan to do this but thinking more about the stadiums and big bubble ideas ... you need to be able to run at least 5 games per day in the bubble (assuming a Western, Central and Eastern bubble). Obviously you might be able to, for example, run double-headers in two stadiums and a single game in a third (Chi-Milw) ... but this is being done with an eye to generating max local TV revenue so, during the week, I think you'd ideall want at least 4 games at night. That's where the AAA stadiums might have to be used in the big bubble.

Also, how strict will they be on "play within your region"? Three 10-team regions is obvious enough but assuming we still have the league structure, you still need one inter-league game per day. 60 games is 20 series ... works out to 12 of 60 games outside your league.
   19. The Duke Posted: June 25, 2020 at 07:51 AM (#5959393)
If the players are in the stands, can they drink beer, heckle, and be on the kiss cam? I hope one of them leans over the rail and interferes on a catchable foul ball
   20. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: June 25, 2020 at 11:34 AM (#5959428)
Breakout in Florida aside, isn't the best way to do this on spring training fields? They've already got fields that are a bus ride away from each other, why bother flying all over the country? (And worrying about Canadian and NY travel bans/quarantine rules.)
   21. Mayor Blomberg Posted: June 25, 2020 at 02:18 PM (#5959471)
As I posted somewhere earlier, Walt, I don't see why at least D-I college stadia shouldn't be used on campuses where classes will be held online.
   22. Walt Davis Posted: June 26, 2020 at 04:12 AM (#5959586)
I have no idea how large D1 stadiums are.

#20 ... that's a big aside. A bubble in spring training facilities was of course discussed and dropped ... and with AZ and FL both spiking and the other proposed spot of TX also spiking, I assume nobody's in a hurry to revive that idea. I'm also not sure how easy it is to set up all the cameras, etc. in those stadiums; whether there are just far superior broadcasting facilities at MLB parks no idea if they care enough about statcast and replay appeals to matter in the decision but I assume that really only works in a MLB park. Granted spring training facilities might well be better equipped than AAA parks for most of that stuff.
   23. Sunday silence Posted: June 26, 2020 at 06:48 AM (#5959587)
There never gonna finish the season. There's too many variables not accounted for, there's not enuf preparation given for the inevitable problems, and most of all this virus thing is moving too fast. We know more every day, there are new problems every day, there are new political situations every day...

Over/under on how many games this season goes. Closest to the mark wins some baseball keepsake that I will contribute.
   24. mathesond Posted: June 26, 2020 at 08:45 AM (#5959592)
#23 - Since this will probably be comment 24, I'll go with 24 games (per team) in. Or, 360 total games played.
   25. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: June 26, 2020 at 09:38 AM (#5959595)
I did see that any player can choose to skip the season. If they're in a "high-risk" group (no idea who qualifies -- any diabetics currently playing?)

Adam Duvall is diabetic. David Dahl had his spleen removed after it was ruptured playing baseball, so he's high risk for infections. Here's an article that lists some others, although I don't think e.g. Jake Diekman's ulcerative colitis makes him higher-risk for this disease.
   26. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: June 26, 2020 at 09:48 AM (#5959596)
I have no idea how large D1 stadiums are.

They must vary wildly. Mississippi State has 13,000 seats. I attended some Pitt baseball games in 2006-2010 and there were two sets of bleachers with fewer seats than my high school football field, which was a SMALL high school football field. 3 to 5,000 seems typical for major-conference schools that take some pride in their baseball team.
   27. Walt Davis Posted: June 26, 2020 at 08:37 PM (#5959775)
I meant how large in terms of field dimensions. Crowd capacity is probably not something MLB will have to worry much about this season.
   28. Walt Davis Posted: June 26, 2020 at 08:44 PM (#5959776)
I gather the issue with (some?) colitis is that it is an autoimmune disorder and may be treated with immuno-suppresants -- not what you want in a pandemic.
   29. Mayor Blomberg Posted: June 26, 2020 at 09:41 PM (#5959778)
Walt, quich hunt turns up

UCI 335 Left, 405 Center, 355 Right
UCLA 330 Left, 390 Center, 330 right, and 365 in the gaps
SDSU 340 Left, 412 Center, 340 Right, and 365 in the gaps
CSUF 330 Left, 400 Center, 330 Right, and 385 in the gaps
   30. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 27, 2020 at 11:37 AM (#5959816)
I'm of two minds about this whole idea. On the one hand, if they have to play at all, I'm glad they're letting teams play in their regular home parks. OTOH I think it'd be much better just to cancel the season and begin afresh in 2021.

Right now this 60 game season seems like little more than a series of exhibition games, especially when the inevitable "injuries" in the form of positive tests start coming into play. How can a game be meaningful if four or five key players can't play because they're being quarantined? AFAIC this whole thing is a ####### joke.
   31. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: June 27, 2020 at 12:17 PM (#5959822)
AFAIC this whole thing is a ####### joke


Sure, but I could really use a good joke right about now.
   32. puck Posted: June 27, 2020 at 12:30 PM (#5959824)
Are any of the sports in the bubble yet?

I don't think MLS is yet, nor was the NWSL (women's pro soccer). Players are testing positive before making it to the bubble.

The Orlando NWSL team withdrew just before the tourney started as they had 6 players and 4 staff test positive. MLS hasn't been naming names but teams have been having players test positive.
   33. Sunday silence Posted: June 28, 2020 at 04:55 PM (#5960036)

#23 - Since this will probably be comment 24, I'll go with 24 games (per team) in. Or, 360 total games played.


we could do it that way, or make it "days since opening day." Im going to go with 30 days into the season.

Do you want to suggest something like 28 days? since I guess they're going to play 6 games per week.
   34. Sunday silence Posted: June 28, 2020 at 05:01 PM (#5960038)
. 60 games is 20 series ... works out to 12 of 60 games outside your league.


Walt, you're probably better at math than me, but are you sure about these numbers?

I get 4 teams in your division, thats 4 x6= 24.

THen what 5 teams in another division, that's 30.

And that leaves 6 for some other at large team. Im probably missing something.

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