The Athletic reported over the weekend that Major League Baseball was considering an option to play all its games and house all its team in Arizona, with no fans in the stands as the season gets underway. The author, Ken Rosenthal, pointed out the logistical hurdles that could make that plan a near impossibility – and an ethical dilemma to boot. The Associated Press on Tuesday said that it’s being kicked around at the highest levels of MLB, including a recent conference call led by Commissioner Rob Manfred.
Not so fast, the league said.
“MLB has been actively considering numerous contingency plans that would allow play to commence once the public health situation has improved to the point that it is safe to do so,” MLB wrote in a statement Tuesday.
“While have discussed the idea of staging games at one location as one potential option, we have not settled on that option or developed a detailed plan. … The health and safety of our employees, players, fans and the public at large are paramount, and we are not ready to at his time to endorse any particular format for staging games in light of the rapidly changing public health situation caused by the coronavirus.”
It’s an intriguing idea, playing in Arizona, because it sparks creativity at a time when so many people want pro sports like baseball to return. The feasibility of the idea is another issue.
To make any such plan work, the required safeguards would be extensive. There’s a moral debate to be had over the notion that supplies and medical professionals would be re-allocated to take care of pro athletes and support staffs, while the public in some areas of the country face major health crises.
Could the games be played somewhere remotely, far away from any mass population centers? That idea runs into the same road blocks.
Elsewhere around the world, the English Premier League reportedly has explored the idea of restarting in one fixed location, too, and not allowing any fans in the doors. Don’t forget that Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for COVID-19 and is recovering, or that Prime Minister Boris Johnson reportedly is in an intensive care unit fighting the virus.
Meanwhile, Korea’s top baseball league, the KBO, has sprouted optimism that they could restart before too long and perhaps even play a full baseball season worth of games. They have begun intrasquad games, according to reports. South Korea handled a blooming pandemic in a different way than the United States.