Major League Baseball has to put health, safety above everything else
By Kevin Henry
There was no “Father’s Day Miracle” on Sunday as Major League Baseball still has no firm start date or number of games (if any) its 30 teams will be playing in 2020. But with COVID-19 still very much a specter looming over our daily lives (including our sports), does it really matter?
With COVID-19 still very much dominating the headlines and on the rise in many parts of our country, there are more questions than answers about baseball and its true place in the middle of a pandemic as a new week dawns on Monday. Major League Baseball players chose not to vote on Sunday on a proposal that would have set the season in motion, adding another day to what is becoming an increasingly condensed timeline to get a season started and completed.
After weeks of public bickering, however, it seems that the sides are both realizing that there is something more at play here than just money and a set number of games. There is also the matter of health and safety that truly should have been dominating the conversation from the first day that discussions about bringing baseball back began.
With all MLB spring training sites closed for cleaning and disinfection after an alarming number of positive diagnoses were reported, there seems to be not only more urgency to get a deal done and start the season before a “second wave” of the pandemic might hit in the fall, but also more of a realization that the specter of the coronavirus hovers over every athlete and every clubhouse.
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Can players be guaranteed the safest conditions in which to play a game that is not only their livelihood, but also a part of our country’s summer routine? If the answer isn’t an unequivocal “yes,” then it truly doesn’t matter how many games or how much money you’re talking about in regards to baseball’s return. In this day and age, health and safety has to come above everything else.
Because, let’s be honest, it isn’t just about players getting sick for a short period of time when it comes to COVID-19. It’s the possibility that damage could be done to the body (especially the lungs) that may take years to overcome.
A vote is likely to happen early this week on whether the players will accept the latest offer from the owners on a 60-game season. If rejected, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has the option of instituting a shorter schedule and getting the season on track. Fans will rejoice if a season is slated, but thoughts should be more about making sure that Nolan Arenado isn’t just in a Colorado Rockies uniform after the 2021 campaign, but that he’s healthy enough to wear it and not limited by the side effects of a short-sighted decision to play the game because “it’s what baseball is supposed to do.”
In states throughout the country, we citizens have been asked to stay at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We’ve been asked to wear masks for not only our safety, but the safety of others. We’ve done a lot of things to ensure those around us stay safe and healthy. Major League Baseball needs to do the same. If it can’t, then the 2020 season be damned. There are much more important things at play here than baseball, and that includes the health of the players and coaches we all want to cheer for (and maybe even criticize a little) again in 2021 and beyond.