Baseball and Covid-19 Update: 4/7/2020

We need to start out by saying that our thoughts still lie with every family suffering. We report sports news, and will continue to report, but we understand much bigger battles are being fought.

So in MLB news. We’re finally starting to hear some foundational ideas coming out of MLB for their 2020 season plan. It should also be stated, that everything about to be mentioned, is considered the best case scenario at the moment.

Highlights

  • MLB has made a goal for a 2020 season timeline
  • Where is everyone going to play?
  • What about playoffs?
  • How would this change the season?
  • Why is it still a long shot?
  • Our ideas to help?

Current Gameplan

We finally have a date that MLB is trying to achieve. JULY 1ST! (11:50 AM 4/7/20 update, now we’re hearing a possible May return which is great great news as far as baseball) A mere 85 days away. They want to play 100 games and end the season on October 15th. (The original season was going to be March 26th – September 27th). Again this is a moving target they have been trying to peg as Covid runs its course. Here’s a look at some of the scenarios that were being considered through March.

The All Star game is a guaranteed casualty of this situation. If LA has an All Star game, at best it will be in 2021.

And even though baseball would start on July 1st, players would need at least 2-4 weeks to play an expedited spring training. Theoretically, players could need to be starting on June 1st.

With this schedule two major things become apparent. One, the doubleheaders mentioned before, don’t need to happen as of yet. This also means that rosters will probably not expand beyond 30 active guys. And the second thing the current gameplan tells us, is that we’re not far from the season being cancelled all together. It seems like the latest start MLB is willing to consider is August 1st, and an end date of October 31st.

Where Will They Play?

As of right now, the plan would be to have all 30 teams located and playing in the Arizona or Florida spring training stadiums. Most likely Arizona considering the state’s expected Covid peak is April 26th vs Florida’s May 3rd expected apex.

The games would be played with no fans in attendance and broadcasting the games. Some kind of new television deal would have to be agreed upon, as well as the teams foregoing the $10.7 billion made in ticket sales.

The good news is at least one MLB exec said that money is nothing more than a math problem. they care mostly about the health and safety of everyone involved. As well as making sure baseball doesn’t deplete resources from those who need it.

What’s Up With Playoffs?

And since the season would go later into the winter months than ever before, the World Series would be located most likely at Dodger Stadium as one of the fairest weather stadiums.

Every playoff level before that would be played in clubs home stadiums like normal. (possibly with no fans still, but hopefully not). However, before Dodger fans get excited, if they make it back to the WS, it would be played either in Anaheim or San Diego to be fair to every other club.

It doesn’t sound like any other playoff changes are being considered at this moment. Manfred was rumored to be pushing new playoff changes.

Side Effects

If the entirety of the season was played in Arizona with no fans there are a lot of lurking variables that change.

Park factor will not exist. Teams like the Rockies will no longer have the Coors effect on their lineup. In fact, almost every team will seem like they’re playing in Coors. Arizona is hot and dry. With the launch angle phenomena, it’s almost guaranteed that the league will see records in home runs across the board. Guys with high hard hit rates should put up career stats.

Pitchers beware. Only guys that keep the ball on the ground may put up their normal career numbers. A lot of fly balls will turn into homers in Arizona.

And no team will truly be playing at home. Yes, part of home field advantage is having the last say in ABs. But there’s the psychological effect on players when they are playing in front of a home crowd.

The Tampa Bay Rays, who shut down their upper decks from low attendance, won 96 games last year. 48-33 at home, and 48-33 away. The Dodgers, who often have the most fans in attendance every year, won 107 games last year. 59-22 at home and 47-34 on the road.

Every team that won their division had a better record at home, except the Twins. In fact, only 3 teams above .500 didn’t win more at home. The Rays who were the exact same, the Twins who won 9 more games on the road, and the Red Sox who won 8 more on the road.

There’s a lot of lurking variables in there, but the main correlation we’re seeing is that teams who win the most seem to have exceptional home records. Without the home crowd advantage, will the standings even look remotely like they did in 2019?

Why is this still not looking promising?

Players have already agreed to a pro-rated contract, but apparently they may need to take another cut.

The best case scenario at this moment is already a 100-game season. It’s been a big debate as to when a season loses all meaning by a lack of games. If we hit that breaking point, the season will most likely be cancelled in the next couple months.

Some states still have projected Covid-19 apexes in late May. As in they will only hit their peak and about halfway point, in late May.

Players would need to be perfectly quarantined. There is no room for error. Ken Rosenthal said it well in an article on the Athletic.

Our Ideas to Make This More Likely?

  • Every player plays for the league minimum

Understandably, money is an issue. (read our article on the economics in baseball). Players are already leading the charge in philanthropic measures, but we need more right now. And we need it from the sports organizations themselves. The logistics of a baseball season like this already cost a lot, let alone when baseball is making almost no revenue. Not to mention there is no point in baseball if its draining resources from the common good. So have all the players agree to a league minimum salary and what they would be paid more be donated.

  • Player commentators along with more players being mic’d up

As much as I love baseballs usual commentators, every extra person adds extra risk. So drawback the normal commentators and have them in safe studios wherever they may be. Instead lean more on the players who are already there and tested. Every team will have off days. Perhaps having them being that days announcers along with mic’d up players would help limit unnecessary contact.

  • VR Tickets

We’ve mentioned this before but it’s time for VR to enter sports. Sell virtual tickets to help raise money for the donations. Place VR cameras at different places in the stadium being used. Sell from outfield seats to in the dugout with the players.

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