Nationals

Nationals

The coronavirus pandemic has made Dr. Anthony Fauci, an infectious disease expert, one of the most recognizable people in the United States. He attends briefings with the president, is in demand among various news outlets and was portrayed by Brad Pitt in a recent Saturday Night Live episode.

Wednesday, he talked with Ryan Zimmerman about a wide range of topics. Fauci said Pitt needs to improve his Brooklyn accent, that he would pitch Max Scherzer in a Game 7 if he could choose from anyone, and his dad took him to see Joe DiMaggio when he was a child in Brooklyn.

But, what everyone associated with baseball wants to know from Fauci, is if and how the sport can safely return in 2020. He outlined multiple scenarios when asked by Zimmerman.

“I think there is a pathway there, Ryan, but it’s going to depend on my answer about the question a few minutes ago (about slowing the spread),” Fauci said. “As we start trying to get back to normality and pulling back on some of the strict mitigation, you know we have a three-phase way to get back to normal. First you get past the checkpoint, the gateway -- kind of like the minor leagues before you get into the big leagues. Then you go to Phase 1, then if you do well, you go to Phase 2, then Phase 3. If we do that successfully, and there’s no major outbreaks, I could foresee any of a number of scenarios.

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“One of the scenarios would be something that I know is not pleasing to the players like yourself, is to at least get the fans to see it on TV. Get the players all tested so they’re negative and they’re not going to infect each other. Let them go to a place -- a few places -- where you can play ball and play and watch it on TV. That’s one option.

“The next option is to do the same thing, but if things are really low, to restrict the number of people in the stadium. Say, when you get on line to get your ticket the way we do on Capitol Street, you stand there and you’re six feet away from the person in front of you instead of face-to-face when the crowd comes in. The next thing, [put fans in] every fifth seat or every fourth seat, that could be done.

“Then, the best of all, is if things really work out well, you could have a regular season. But I hope there’s some form of baseball this summer, even if it’s just TV. I feel that strongly, one, because I’m an avid baseball fan. But also, I mean it’s for the country’s mental health to have the great American pastime be seen. Two, it’s for players like yourself that don’t have a lot of years left. You don’t want to lose another year. It’s for the rookies who are coming up, who waited all their lives since high school to do this, who are getting a season taken away from them. And it’s for the people who are on a roll, like many of the players on the Nats, to keep going. So, there’s so many reasons to want to do that.”

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