Some MLBers Worry That New Safety Protocols Are Too Stringent
Some MLBers are "hoping for tweaks" to the league's recent health-protocols proposal, as discussions between MLB and the MLBPA "continue about how to safely restart during the coronavirus pandemic," according to Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com. Players "want to know whether some in-stadium and clubhouse restrictions can be loosened based on the plan to frequently test players and staff for the virus." MLB's protocols inside club facilities "call for major changes to previously normal routines." From "no spitting -- or even showering -- allowed at the field, to the discontinued use of recovery equipment -- such as hydrotherapy pools and cryotherapy chambers -- many aspects of day-to-day life would change." Marlins P Brandon Kintzler said, "Not getting to use any of the facilities that help recover our bodies is going to be a problem." Rogers noted while some players "believe the in-stadium protocols will be tough to maintain, others are worried about the off-the-field regulations." Still, Cardinals SS Paul DeJong said that while there "might be some potholes from the health proposal, none are big enough to derail the return of the sport" (ESPN.com, 5/20). Pirates manager Derek Shelton said that MLB's proposal is a "'a first draft' that is 'challenging' -- and he hopes will be improved." He said, "Once we get this proposal in people’s hands and people are able to talk about it back and forth, we’ll probably come to something that’s more workable for everyone" (TRIBLIVE.com, 5/20).
DOOMSDAY SCENARIO: USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale writes if the season was "unable to start because of COVID-19, with too many players and employees fearful of their safety, it’d be perfectly understandable." But if there is no MLB played this year because the owners and players "can’t agree on salaries, it would make the cancellation of the 1994 World Series feel like a doubleheader rainout in June." Nightengale: "It would destroy the sport" (USA TODAY, 5/21). In Boston, Michael Silverman writes both the league and the union are "aware of the outcry that would result from a standoff that lasts long enough to scrap the restart plan," as there would be a "ruinous negative reaction to no agreement" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/21).
LOOKING AT THE OPTIONS: In N.Y., Joel Sherman notes the union, "if it allows itself, could actually be in a position of leverage." It is "clear how desperate MLB is to want to play some form of a season and, especially, postseason." Perhaps "so desperate that all the union has to do is keep saying 'no' to everything and eventually MLB will cave and give the pro-rata salaries to save the season." But that strategy is "risky," for there are owners who "would rather not play than add to their 2020 losses." Thus, the players also have to be "in the solution business" (N.Y. POST, 5/21).
TOO MUCH? In Minneapolis, Patrick Reusse writes the "average playing field in major league baseball covers 2.49 acres, or 108,464 square feet." That is one of the "great advantages for baseball in our virus world, and should make it much easier to resume playing the actual game than for the other major sports." MLB's 67-page proposal "could have been done with one page of eight dos and don’ts, but that would not have been viewed as a properly over-the-top virus response by various state leaders" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/21). In Philadelphia, David Murphy writes under the header, "Masks In The Dugout? Is Major League Baseball Serious? Let’s Hope Not." Murphy: "I can’t think of a worse way to erode a society’s collective sense of self-determination than to create a world in which every action and interaction is conducted with an explicit reminder that it could result in death" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 5/21).