Late last night, Jeff Passan dropped this scud missile on our faces:
It went into extreme detail on MLB moving closer to starting their season in late May by moving all 30 teams to Arizona and isolating them in hotels and away from the general public for the duration of the season. Read the article. There would be a LOT of rule changes. Shit like 7 inning double headers, etc., but the biggest issue is that players would *literally* not be allowed to see their families for a solid 5 months or so. The rest of it seems feasible, aside from the fact that you'd have to trust around ~1200 players to not break the rules laid out by MLB, health agencies and the MLBPA.
My immediate thought was this: with ASU girls around the corner and "dating" apps readily available, you think these guys are gonna chill in their hotels alone non-stop?
Yeahhh…. that prolly ain't happening. But let's assume they all do abide by the rules they're told to follow, for all intents and purposes. Then it could work, in theory. Maybe MLB will fine the fuck out of whoever breaks quarantine, who knows… But whether or not they go through with this is a different story.
To start, those of us who cover baseball at Barstool are in a group chat and this is what everyone thinks will happen with this:
Carrabis: "No. Players won't leave their families this long"
Hubbs: "Yes, I have nothing to hold onto besides hope. Tons of hurdles they have to hold onto of course"
RDT: "No, it's a last ditch effort to save the season"
Me: "Yes, too much money on the table for everyone to lose and I think President Trump probably pushed pro sports teams to come back ASAP (whether right or wrong for morale purposes"
I didn't get a response from Carl, because why would I? Thanks man!
Moving forward, I also talked to one of my good friends who's an agent about this this morning. We kinda divvied it up into tiers on who we thought would be in or out on this plan. Now mind you, the operating term in here is SPECULATION. He's obviously got a slew of very good MLB players that he's spoken with, but their thoughts don't represent the collective thoughts of players as a whole, so we're going to avoid using them for this. It's just him and I speculating what players would think of this plan:
Players that would be "in":
1. Pre-arb guys: most are younger and don't have families yet, and they will do anything to play and work towards a free agent contract so they can provide for their eventual families long term. They'd sacrifice these ~5 months to provide themselves financial security in the long term
2. Arbitration guys: still younger, a lot of them don't have families, and it's the first time they've made "fuck you" money, and they won't see that "fuck you" money if there's no season.
3. First big free agent contract guys: think someone like Dallas Keuchel who just signed for his first big paycheck. Now I haven't spoken with him and could be wrong, but this was his first long term deal. I'd imagine he'd want to reap the benefits of having reached that deal.
4. Players that just LOVE baseball: self explanatory
Players That Would Say "F This":
1. Older Players who have already gotten paid: Think Zack Grienke. Already has a gazillion dollars in the bank, has nothing left to prove. Maybe someone like Kershaw too.
Now IF (and the new keyword is IF) this Arizona plan goes down, it sounds like the vast majority of players won't have a choice here anyways. It's either pay and get paid, or don't and don't. Nobody can force them to play, but the league and MLBPA can force them to abide by the agreement if they do want to, in fact, get paid this year.
But after speaking with a few players, it sounds like the majority of them would suck it up. I wish I could go on record with the quotes a few of the players have given me, but I can't because they'd get in trouble with MLB and the MLBPA. The original point of this blog was for players to go on record with their thoughts, but they can't, so they won't.
That is, other than one player so long as he remained anonymous. No, he doesn't play for the White Sox. It's an NL West team. I just asked him what he thought of Passan's article and being sequestered from his family for 4-5 months, as he's the father of 3 young children:
Hey Dave, I saw it too and actually my wife and I have been talking about this since the shutdown. I’m absolutely open for this. It just obviously has be soooo detailed with what we do and where we stay and what resources we’d have. I’m also thinking about what if the teams need more arms and they have no minor league games going on. From what I’ve seen, double headers everyday? Less days off? That’s gonna deplete pitching. But that’s my perspective as a relief pitcher.
Yep, makes sense, so long as they're provided with enough resources and wouldn't be living in shanties over in Tolleson.
Oh yeah and on the topic of no mound visits, and players not next to each other in the dugout… that is the most eyewash thing I’ve ever heard…. you cannot be apart of a team and a game and not share germs… what are we gonna disinfect the ball every time someone touches it. Pitchers use spit or sweat to rub the ball every time they get a new one. I don’t think keeping teammates 6 feet away will do anything but look like their being responsible.
My whole point is, the players will be in a bubble and not be in contact with the outside world, and tested on the reg, so why these stupid precautions?
All good points! If the players do abide by all of the rules laid out by MLB and health agencies, they won't get infected with the virus. It's not like it can magically appear out of thin air, so you might as well keep everyone in the dugout and play the game as normally as possible, right? Gimme entire dugout floors filled with sunflower seed shells and dip spit, please!
But the moral of the story is this: most players would be down for this plan. The vast majority of them.
Also, FWIW as I started this blog, MLB pretty much denied this whole thing:
I would think this is bullshit, but Jeff Passan doesn't push #FakeNews. He's one of the best in the biz. That said, he's not infallible either. I just think he was so specific that there's no way he was off on this.
UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal does NOT push #FakeNews
If the headline is true, and because Ken Rosenthal wrote it we should assume it is, then we WILL have baseball back sooner than later. That's good for everyone, especially the country's morale, assuming the general. We want our National Pastime back
Also, some FAQs:
Question: What do we do with Minor Leaguers? What if there is an injury and a team needs to call someone up?
Answer: From what I gather, minor league baseball would largely be canceled, but teams would sequester their whole 40 man rosters. That, and rosters would be expanded anyways. If someone goes down for the season, a player would be added to the 40 man. This would be TOUGH for teams to manage properly.
Question: How does this affect service time?
Answer: Not sure yet. I'd imagine that would be detailed in the revised CBA and we'll know then
Question: What about testing? Why give 100s of MLB players a test every day when we don't have enough tests for the rest of the country?
Answer: This would only work if tests are readily available and can provide near instant results.
Question: What about media/TV/etc.? No idea. Not sure media outlets are going to pay to have someone sequestered with a team in a hotel for 4-5+ months or more.
It's going to be a strange few weeks and months. Apparently the next week to 10 days are suppose to be the worst days for this country with respect to the virus and after that we'll slowly start to recuperate. Now it's still going to be a long and often times brutal road, but this won't last forever. Baseball will be back whether it's in May, June or July in some fashion or another and I'm of the opinion that in shitty times like we're in now, it's important to get some sort of semblance of normalcy back, even if it's just for morale purposes.