One of the major hang-ups during Major League Baseball's restart negotiations was how late into the fall the 2020 season should be scheduled. The concern remains that a rise in coronavirus cases could put the postseason and World Series into jeopardy.
Now, with the regular season reportedly to open July 23 with the Nationals hosting the Yankees, we have an idea when we'll see real baseball again.
But, that doesn't answer the bigger question: will they make it through the entire season?
"I think it's possible. I don't think it will be without some positive tests along the way," former Mets GM Steve Phillips told the Nationals Talk podcast. "I just find it interesting, so we started in Japan, and they're getting along fine. In Korea, their policies were if one player tested positive the entire league would shut down for 18 games, and they haven't shut down yet."
Obviously there are different situations country by country, but Major League Baseball has an exceptionally long list of protocols they expect players to follow in order to keep this season running safely. The clear way to lower the risk is by following them.
"If you want to play you're going to have to follow the rules," Phillips continued. That list is long too, and along with regular testing, here's a few:
- Non-playing personnel must wear masks in the dugout.
- No spitting and no chewing tobacco. Chewing gum is allowed.
- No bat/ball boys or girls. Their duties will be handled by team personnel.
- Players have to retrieve their own cap and glove at the end of an inning if they're on base. A teammate can't bring it to them.
- Hitters will have their own personal pine tar rag, bat weight, and other hitting equipment. Nothing is shared.
- Baseballs used during batting practice must be disinfected and taken out of circulation for at least five days.
- High fives, fist bumps, and hugs are prohibited. Fighting will be met with "severe discipline."
- The only contact allowed on the field is tag plays and other incidental contact that occurs during normal play.
- Showering at the ballpark is "discouraged." Even then only players, coaches, and clubhouse staff can shower at the park.
There's only so much that can be done to keep this season as safe as possible, and there's no way to prevent a COVID-19 infection with 100 percent certainty. Yet MLB is going full steam ahead starting this month, and the hope from all is that it ends with a World Series champion crowned.
Preferably the Washington Nationals again.
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