Spike’s Trophies misses baseball, and we bet you do too. A spring without America’s pastime hasn’t felt right, and a summer without the game feels even worse. With the prospects of Little Leagues across the nation playing this summer looking bleak, with no kids receiving any Philadelphia sports awards this year, we have one last hope to see baseball back in some form this summer thanks to Major League Baseball.
After tirelessly hearing half-truths from pundits across the nation offering their ideas for how America’s pastime can safely return to our screens, the MLB has finally handed an official proposal over to the Player’s Association to ratify. The proposal contains steps to keep everyone involved safe during the ongoing pandemic, fundamental rule changes (hello Universal DH!), and details on the agencies across the board that have to work together to get games played this summer. Now that the proposal is in the hands of the MLBPA, what are the next steps, and when can we reasonably expect to see baseball back?
The MLBPA has to address each section of the 67-page proposal and decide as a unit whether or not the steps, precautions, logistics, and proposed temporary rule changes meet a reasonable standard of safety that the players can fully support. It is a complex situation that requires all of the players to compare the risks with their desire to see the game they love to return for a shortened 2020 season. The life of the average player in the MLB was always a different beast. Still, with the proposed precautions and safety protocols for the 2020 season, it is going to look almost unrecognizable.
Even with these precautions, the MLBPA rejected the initial proposal. Now, the league will come back with a new proposal for a 50-game season.
A Day at the Yard
The anatomy of a day at the ballpark will look drastically different for players. Multiple levels of screening for the virus include taking your temperature at various points of the day and no physical exchange of lineup cards. Only a handful of players are allowed in the dugout at a time while the rest are confined to the stands, unable to high five or chew sunflower seeds. On the field, if too many players touch the ball, it must be replaced with a fresh ball. Rules about how long players can stay at the park after the game also goes into effect. It is a complex system that shows that bringing back baseball during the midst of a global pandemic is a Herculean task that asks much from the players, coaches, umpires, and field staff.
Time Will Tell
As we wait patiently for the MLBPA to evaluate the proposal and weigh their options, we are left with hope — hope that in this year of turmoil, we can find a semblance of the world pre-COVID-19. To quote Field of Dreams:
“The one constant through the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of what is good, and that could be again.”
Baseball coming back will help jumpstart the healing process for countless sports fans around the world. We can’t wait to resume commemorating special occasions with custom engraved plaques and spend lazy Sunday afternoons down at the ballpark.