MLB's COVID-19 safety protocols include some big, complicated hurdles for players

MLB's COVID-19 safety protocols include some big, complicated hurdles for players

Major League Baseball has released its medical protocols proposal to the MLB Players Association, and reports from the 67-page document paint a detailed look at how to play baseball amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

It also seems a bit complicated.

NBC Sports Philadelphia's Phillies insider Jim Salisbury joined Mike Tirico's Lunch Talk Live on Monday to break down the proposed protocols, which include limits and rules on things like hotel stays, traveling to and from ballparks, and even showering after games.

Salisbury said he sees some rules that will be tough for players to embrace, and others that seem hard to enforce.

"I think of some of these pitchers who love to do the hot and cold compresses, the hot and cold whirlpools, the contrast whirlpools, after games," Salisbury said Monday, "and I guess they wouldn't be able to do that. Sitting in the dugouts, sitting in the stands, you can't talk to the third base coach, throwing out balls after you use them and touch them.

"It's going to be - I think baseball players are really creatures of routine, and creatures of habit. I mean, they spit a lot. They don't even know they're spitting. It's in their subconscious. It's in their ballplayer DNA. Things like that are going to be very, very difficult for these guys to break. Chewing sunflower seeds in the outfield.

"I just wonder how this stuff is going to be policed, and is there going to be a punishment if you do stuff like this?"

The question of policing these rules is a big question, considering these are uncharted waters for MLB, and for pro sports at large.

Tirico asked Salisbury whether he thinks, if these protocols can be shaped into something player-friendly, and things seem to be safe for all involved, the players and owners will be able to find common ground in terms of fair pay for a compromised season.

"I do, Mike, and here's why," Salisbury explained. "Usually, when these two sides, the old warring factions of the owners and the players, get together and start talking about money, they draw lines and they dig in, there's rancor early, and they eventually work their way to the middle. 

"One of the things with this coronavirus crisis, this shutdown, is you notice there's a real sense of community out there. You see it in your neighborhoods, in your town, with people. Baseball needs to show that same sense of community. The owners and players need to come together. If health and safety can be worked out, they need to find a way to work out those finances and play some ball.

"Come together, show some community, get back on the field if - and only if - it's going to be safe for everyone." 

If all that comes together - a big if, no doubt - when could we realistically see games played again?

The popular proposal floating around baseball circles right now, originally suggested by The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal in late April, has placed a big target on July 4 as a possible start date.

Tirico asked Salisbury if he thinks the holiday restart is feasible.

"I hope so," Salisbury said, "and I hope we see it right here in Philadelphia. What better place to go on the Fourth of July?"

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NCAA Selection Sunday turned Social Distancing Sunday

NCAA Selection Sunday turned Social Distancing Sunday

Today is supposed to be a day about dreams coming true. Today is supposed to be a day about hard work paying off. Today is supposed to be a day about why you signed that letter of intent as a 17-year old kid in high school. Unfortunately to no one’s fault, dreams have been cut short, the hard work has come to a stop, and no one will get their moment to shine. Today just won’t be the same.

Instead of Selection Sunday, it’ll be more like Social Distancing Sunday. Teams and student bodies won’t be hovered around televisions awaiting to hear their school name called by CBS’ Greg Gumbel. Teams and student bodies won’t be holding their breath hoping they’ve done enough to impress the selection committee to receive an invite to “The Dance”. We all know the Kansas’, Kentucky’s, and Duke’s of the world were locked into the field of 68.

Even around our neck of the woods it’s a mere formality for Jay Wright and his Villanova Wildcats to see their name on one of the brackets. No doubt it’s a shame those kids won’t get the chance to live out their dream while seniors had their college careers come to a screeching halt.  

However, my heart goes out to schools and fan bases like Penn State and Rutgers. The Nittany Lions were on their way to their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2011 while the last time the Scarlet Knights put their dancing shoes on, “The Silence of the Lambs” was the number one box office movie (1991). Today, silence will be the voice of the college basketball community. No euphoria for finally getting over that hump and proudly pumping your school’s name on your chest. I know the feeling of being a lesser known basketball program who earns the chance to be loud and proud.

I take you back to 2013. My school, La Salle University, had a fantastic regular season (21-9) including two wins in the same week against top-20 opponents. Then came Selection Sunday and what an agonizing hour I endured. Was their resume enough to punch their ticket? 66 teams announced. One matchup to go. When La Salle’s name was revealed, to say I was excited was an understatement. My kids had no idea why I was yelling and screaming in the house. La Salle made the First Four in Dayton and turned their invite into a trip to the Sweet 16. What a ride those couple of weeks were as I got to experience March Madness with a horse in the race.

Yes, basketball and all sports are secondary at this time. Family and health are the top priority while filling out brackets and block pools are simply an afterthought. The feeling of uncertainty is like a dark cloud hovering around all of us everyday. I just wish it didn’t wash away the dreams of the student athletes and their respective fans who don’t always experience that “One Shining Moment”.

Philadelphia Wings are coming to NBC Sports Philadelphia

Philadelphia Wings

Philadelphia Wings are coming to NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Wings are coming to NBC Sports Philadelphia.

NBC Sports Philadelphia will air nine Wings games during the National Lacrosse League regular season, beginning with the home opener at the Wells Fargo Center on Friday, Jan. 10.

Brian Smith will call play-by-play with former Wings Captain Scott Gabrielsen handling analysis and Devan Kaney reporting from the sidelines.

This will be the Wings' second season back in the NLL after a four-year hiatus from the league. They went 4-14 last season but did rank fifth among the 11 teams in goals.

Key returning Wings include:

• Matt Rambo, an NLL All-Rookie selection and nominee for Lacrosse Player of the Year by US Lacrosse magazine

• Trevor Baptiste, who broke the NLL’s face-off record with 362 wins and was also named to the NLL All-Rookie team

• Captain Kiel Matisz, forward Josh Currier, and point leader Kevin Crowley

• Brett Hickey, the 2019 No. 1 expansion draft pick and offensive leader, is expected to play this year after missing last season due to injury.

Here is the full Wings TV schedule on NBC Sports Philadelphia and NBC Sports Philadelphia:

Fri, Jan. 10 vs. Vancouver Warriors (7 p.m. on NBCSP)

Sun, Jan. 19 vs. Rochester Knighthawks (7 p.m. on NBCSP)

Fri, Jan. 24 vs. New York Riptide (7 p.m. on NBCSP)

Fri, Jan. 31 vs. Georgia Swarm (7 p.m. on NBCSP+)

Sat, Feb. 22 vs. Saskatchewan Rush (7 p.m. on NBCSP)

Sat, March 7 vs. New England Black Wolves (1 p.m. on NBCSP+)

Sun, March 15 vs. New York Riptide (7 p.m. on NBCSP)

Sat, March 28 vs. San Diego Seals (7 p.m. on NBCSP+)

Sat, April 4 vs. Toronto Rock (7 p.m. on NBCSP+)

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.