After 35 plus years of working in professional baseball, A’s manager Bob Melvin has witnessed a lot.
But nothing like what COVID-19 has presented.
“You think you see everything in the game, and this isn’t even about the game anymore,” Melvin told NBC Sports California from his home in Arizona. “It’s just a difficult time in our world, and everyone needs to be pretty disciplined in slowing the curve and get past this.”
Melvin, like his players and the rest of MLB, was amazed at how quickly professional sports - and regular life for that matter, came to a screeching halt last week.
“Towards the end of spring, you kind of saw this coming the last couple of days,” Melvin said. “Everything changed so quickly, it became a real uncomfortable feeling.“
An uncomfortable feeling that continues and intensifies with each day. Melvin keeps in touch with many players via text, but not many of the conversations revolve around baseball.
“And I think that’s the way it should be,” Melvin said. “You feel like you should try and be control of what the guys are doing right now, but you can’t.”
What’s most unfortunate from a sporting perspective, is the highly-anticipated season Oakland was due to begin in less than a week. There was a tremendous optimism witnessed around the A’s clubhouse at Spring Training. The manager is confident that positive energy will carry over to whenever the season begins.
“I do, and based on my conversations with the guys, them as well,” Melvin said. “I don’t think that changes, we had a good feeling in camp this year. Actually it was better as it went along.”
Some form of second Spring Training eventually will be necessary, especially depending on how long the coronavirus pandemic lasts. A condensed season also is highly possible, but getting close to the 100-game mark would be a nice milestone.
“Baseball is a long enough season where even half a season is quite a few games,” Melvin said. “Half a season is a complete NBA season, so we have that going for us as a sport.”
Melvin knows firsthand the important role sports will play when people are ready to resume a more normal lifestyle. He was part of the Arizona Diamondbacks organization in 2001 that went on to win the World Series.
“After 9/11 it was a badge of honor. And I’ve told our guys this via text, from time to time,” Melvin said. “We knew not only did we accomplish something as a team, but we were relief. We were entertainment for what was a difficult time in our history.”
The skipper knows his current players in Oakland will be up to that task.
“More than anything, the guys want to get back so they can entertain.”
Melvin also carries confidence in the coming days and weeks.
“I know the people in our country respond really well to adversity, and I expect that to be the case again.”