By Steve Turner
Few people enjoy the game of baseball as much as I do.
A fan for nearly six decades, the sound of bat on ball is the splendid music of a long summer romance. It begins with a soft spring training prelude and, if your team is successful, can end with a thunderous fall conclusion.
Raised in baseball crazy St. Louis, one learns the words to the song Take Me Out To The Ballgame at an early age. Not only do you grow up with your own family, but also a second one called Cardinal Nation.
As much as I, and millions of others, would love to see baseball played in 2020 the soundest course of action would be for Major League Baseball to sideline the current season.
Postponing the season should be a no-brainer. It goes beyond baseball executives contemplating a schedule with a shortened season. It is more about preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus and the safety concerns of everyone involved, both on and off the field.
The health of the players must be of first consideration. Twenty six of them will be on each squad this year. Can social distancing actually be practiced while sitting in a dugout, and in the clubhouse? Is it possible to eliminate all communal touching that could lead to virus transmission?
Cleanliness is a key part of virus protection. Do players change into their uniforms in the privacy and safety of their hotel rooms? Do they shower at the ball park or wait until they return?
On the field players will need to control or eliminate certain aspects of the game they have become accustomed to. This involves the emission of body fluids by spitting out gum and sunflower seeds. How do they orchestrate stealing bases and avoiding collisions with members of the opposing team, or should they?
Travel must be a strong consideration. Should teams climb on a plane every three or four days? Impossible to keep social distancing on an aircraft with so many on board. Perhaps management should employ a fleet of planes for safety purposes.
Should MLB decide to play all games in Arizona, as recently discussed in a number of publications, the transportation issue may shift from planes to buses. Ownership will have to decide if all team members should cram into a bus or travel alone in individual cars.
Managers and coaches would seem to be the ones at greatest risk. Most are in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. Do they need to wear masks and protective gloves in the dugout? How does the older staff protect themselves from being around a large group of young people, all it takes is one to unknowingly be the carrier of the disease.
The health of trainers and the support crew must be considered. Those who need to attend to players on a day-to-day basis for bumps, bruises and illnesses may require all sorts of protective clothing to do their jobs. Do they wear hazmat suits in 120 degree Arizona weather? Does MLB need to setup makeshift clinics to treat more serious injuries?
Consider the ramifications should one manager, one coach, or one player contract the virus. Does MLB quarantine that team for weeks? How will that impact the pennant races and the remainder of the schedule? Should that person’s situation become critical or worse, will MLB shut it all down?
Fans will certainly not be allowed into the ballparks. MLB will have to deal with empty seats. Sounds of ball striking bat will reverberate throughout porous 50,000 seat stadiums. Overall quality of the game experience will be compromised.
Baseball executives are trying to save the season, in one form or another, and are currently working through these issues. However, until a vaccine is found and administered, common sense would dictate that as much as we would all love our teams to take the field it would be best for MLB to take a pass this season.
The coronavirus is creating a three strikes scenario for baseball and in regard to this season, they should be called “out”.
Steve is a longtime baseball fan, former sports announcer, and is a Principal with Solomon Turner PR, an award winning public relations firm based in St. Louis. Solomon Turner works with clients from coast-to-coast and is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2020. The firm has been named One of the Top PR Firms in St. Louis for 11 consecutive years by Small Business Monthly. Steve was recently named a national Rockstar Publicist by Authority Magazine and Thrive Global. He can be contacted at https://solomonturner.com