Major League Baseball players are considering a plan from team owners that would start the season in July despite the coronavirus pandemic. KNKX sports commentator Art Thiel talked about the details with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick.
‘A TALL ORDER’
Thiel said the 67-page document that team owners presented to the players’ union last weekend is "an amazing accounting of all the small details that have to change.”
“Baseball players are not allowed to spit anymore,” he said. “You can't fist bump, you can't hug, you can't even shower after the game at the stadium — you have to go to the hotel or go home. In fact, you can't even sit in the dugout if you're not in the lineup. You have to sit in the stands six feet apart.
“One of the things they say in this document is that the careless act of a single member places the entire team and their families at risk. That is a tall order.”
A REGIONAL APPROACH
Thiel noted that there are no plans right now to have fans in the stadiums. It would be an 82-game season that would start in early July after three weeks of training.
“Part of the plan includes breaking up the American and National leagues and forming new competitions regionally in order to shorten the flight,” he continued.
“So the Mariners will be part of a West Coast League. There will be a Central and there will be an Eastern league to minimize the flights and then they're going to restrict players from going anywhere but the team hotel.”
TESTING STILL AN ISSUE
Thiel said MLB owners want test players frequently, but not daily. They do want to take the temperatures of all personnel every day.
“(What) Major League Baseball is going to do is ask for maybe as many as 200,000 test kits that could be going to people elsewhere around the country for more urgent care needs. So that's a real ethical issue.
“Baseball thinks it's got that solved by going to a private lab in Salt Lake City. It remains to be seen whether that's going to work out, but that's the plan.
“Then there's the problem of infection rates varying by city or county. ESPN did a study of infection rates per hundred thousand in the cities where baseball is played. And what that tells us is that it wildly varies throughout the country and hotspots come and go."
“I applaud the extraordinary effort that Major League Baseball is trying to do here. But this is threading the needle on so many places that I just don't think it's realistic.
"But you've got to try something. And so we'll see if the players vote to accept.”