The sports world is itching for a comeback, and we might be a step closer.
Governor Abbott spoke this week and announced that some youth and professional sports can resume as of May 31st.
On May 31, some professional sports can apply to the Department of State Health Services for approval to hold events without spectators, including golf, outdoor racing, baseball, softball, tennis, football, and basketball.
With this being said, most sports require contact during gameplay and practice, but baseball is one of the few that require little to no contact between players during practice and gameplay. The practice of safe distancing will basically take care of itself in all aspects of the game due to the distance in the positions, but at home plate with the batter, catcher and umpire will be relatively close to each other.
Earlier this month, the MLB owners presented a proposal for the return of baseball with certain restrictions and regulations to follow during the COVID-19 pandemic and the attempt to return to normality.
Some of the parameters are:
- 82 game season with no fans in stands until given approval by health officials
- Teams would play with expanded rosters at 50 players available per team, with the number of active players still being negotiated
- 50/50 revenue split between players and owners, paying the players at a prorated rate for games missed/played
- Players will be tested multiple times per week with tests acquired by the MLB
- Expanded playoff bracket increased from 10 to 14 teams
- Batting practice pitchers will wear masks, while dugout telephones need to be disinfected after each use. Players may not touch their face to give signs, and they’re not allowed to lick their fingers.
- Managers and coaches must wear masks while in the dugouts
- Players must wear masks while in restricted areas “except while on the field or engaging in other strenuous activities”
One of the obvious issues is the COVID-19 pandemic at hand. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has outlined a testing plan in an interview on CNN according to Jeff Passan.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred outlined the league's testing plan in an interview on CNN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) May 15, 2020
– Testing multiple times a week for players using a facility in Utah that MLB helped convert to a COVID-testing lab. Return time on tests is 24 hours
– Instant testing for symptomatic players
The league has reassured that it will not stop or shut downplay as a result of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. The test kits have a 24 hour turnaround time, so the results would be available relatively fast. If a player is diagnosed with the virus, they would be directed to self-quarantine until otherwise cleared of the virus and cleared to play. Some players are willing to play through the pandemic, but others are not so willing.
The biggest issue for most is compensation for the players and owners, with both sides fighting for their respective salaries.
With the expanded playoff bracket, more teams would be able to recoup some money throughout the playoffs, but only if fans were to be able to attend games once again. Players feel as though they have given up enough salary since agreeing to a deal in March stating they wouldn’t take their salaries unless they played games. This represents the biggest hurdle in returning to baseball so far this season.
Even with the return of baseball on the horizon, the possibility of baseball in 2020 seems unlikely unless the MLB and MLBPA come to an agreement, which hasn’t happened since the owners presented the proposal.
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