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MLB considering radical proposal to begin season in Arizona


Could MLB play its 2020 season in Phoenix? (Cygnusloop99/Wikimedia Commons)

The word radical is often used with a negative connotation. It doesn’t necessarily have to be, though. In this case, you can make up your mind on how you feel about the use of the word as an adjective to describe a plan MLB is considering to begin the 2020 season as soon as possible.

ESPN‘s Jeff Passan is reporting that baseball is focused on the idea of at least beginning the season in Phoenix, using Chase Field and other available fields and stadiums to allow the season to begin in either May or June.

As part of the plan, Passan says that teams would be “sequestered at local hotels” similar to how you are if you are part of a jury in a very serious court case. The thought is by essentially cutting off contact to the outside world, it would prevent MLB players or employees from contracting or spreading COVID-19, and keep baseball from having to suspend the season once it has already started.

Passan says that part two of spring training (or summer training) would essentially serve as a trial for whether this idea – which apparently does have the support of high-ranking health officials – is feasible.

What would happen if player, coach or umpire was diagnosed with COVID-19 at some point during the season? Passan says that an individual case likely wouldn’t force a halt to the season.

Of course, that’s easier said than done. As Zach Buchanan of The Athletic points out, the expectation is that Coronavirus is supposed to lead to increased hospitalizations in Arizona in May, right around when MLB teams would be coming to the state to prepare for the season. What’s more, while the largest concentration of COVID-19 is in the northeast, Arizona currently has over 2,700 cases itself and borders California, which has over 16,000 cases.

There are a bunch of novelty items being considered, such as seven-inning doubleheaders and an electronic strike zone that would assure social distancing. It’s unclear whether those will go into effect if a version of this plan is ultimately adopted.

Many have careers – or simply their mental health – dependent upon baseball returning and providing some sense of normalcy. The virus doesn’t care about that, unfortunately. And if baseball returns in 2020, they need to be careful to keep that in mind.

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