Seattle Mariners could return to camp as soon as May
By Ty Gonzalez
Baseball may be on the horizon, but at what cost?
Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are working towards the resumption of Spring Training and the subsequent regular season sooner than most anticipated. With the reported “support of high-ranking federal public health officials,” the potential deal currently being analyzed and negotiated by both sides would land the Mariners and their 29 counterparts in Arizona to train and eventually play games in as early as May.
The logistics to make it all happen, however, will be quite the headache for the league to hammer out. Aside from the abundance of available COVID-19 tests that would be required to regularly monitor the health of each team’s roster, staff, and other MLB personnel, Passan lists lodging, security, and transportation as just some of the other hurdles in the league’s way.
That doesn’t even take into account how each and every player in the league would feel about returning to the game as the number of positive COVID-19 cases continues to rise in the United States. While the opportunity to get back on the field will certainly be met with enthusiasm from some players, others will be more reluctant to potentially separate from their families for nearly half a year amidst a global pandemic.
But Major League Baseball and the aforementioned public health officials reportedly feel confident in being able to play games and control the spread of the virus. As Passan previously noted on Twitter, South Korea’s proactive approach to mass testing has limited the severity of COVID-19 cases across the country and thus, baseball has resumed play as the Korean Baseball Organization eyes a late April date for its Opening Day.
Fortunately, baseball can still be played in a fairly normal fashion while implementing social distancing precautions given its nature. Typically played in open-air environments, baseball rarely requires players to be right in the face of one another, and MLB and the MLBPA have floated around ideas to eliminate the few instances that does, such as mound visits and the presence of a home plate umpire.
With all that said, this ultimately feels like it could only end poorly given the remaining uncertainty about the growth of the virus in the United States and the hoops they would have to jump through just to kick it all off. No matter the precautions MLB would put in place to help protect its representatives, their health is being put at a higher risk than it is now in self-isolation.
The biggest issue is the aforementioned amount of COVID-19 tests the league would require and how that takes away such precious and needed resources in a time of crisis just for the sake of a sport.
While a return in May was the hope when the sports world went dark, that quickly felt like a pipe dream and now, anything sooner than July at the earliest feels rather silly. Look, I miss baseball; I miss the Mariners, as I’m sure anyone reading this article does as well. But I’d rather that the health of thousands of players, coaches, staff, and more aren’t put at any sort of unnecessary risk just for my enjoyment.
Major League Baseball simply sees an opportunity to breathe life into its brand by filling a void, which it certainly would given the current climate of the sports world. But, again, at what cost? What happens once a player tests positive for the virus just weeks into the season, if not days? What if they pass it on to one of the older staff members of their team? Does the whole league just shut down again, as they should, after going through all of this trouble, or do they double down and keep chugging along, further risking the safety of its employees?
Baseball will be back in due time, but it shouldn’t force itself upon the current situation the world faces. The Mariners will play again one day. Now is just not the time. Plus, I’m in no rush to see the Mariners hit their consensus projection of being one of the worst teams in the league, especially not in an empty Chase Field or random Spring Training facility.
Patience, MLB. We want baseball, but we’re willing to wait a little longer for it if it ensures the safety of those that make the game what it is.