I want very badly for MLB to resume operations, and not just because I selfishly want to watch baseball. More than any enjoyment I’ll take from the game’s return, even in some bastard mutant form that sees players sequestered in hotels and playing for robot mannequin fans, it’ll mean that sufficient steps have been taken to flatten the curve and mitigate some of the risks we face right now. While greed may well be at the heart of the desire to rush back to the field, actually being able to enact any plans will come only with the approval of health officials.
There’s a glimmer of hope in South Korea, where swift action to close schools and issue stay-at-home orders put them well ahead of the US in terms of the reaction to the coronavirus pandemic. Even though both countries had their first reported cases on the same day, we are weeks behind when it comes to the timeline for the resumption of baseball and other activities. So while the KBO potentially getting its season started in early May is a cause for optimism, there’s a lot of doubt yet remaining.
To wit, everything has to go right as far as the timing and other logistics. Like, everything. If any players get sick or the robot fans rebel against their creators, the whole thing could be in jeopardy. It’s nearly impossible to put the toothpaste back in the tube once you’ve started the season already, so a stoppage after a few days or weeks would be far less than ideal. But hey, maybe it all works out well.
Even in the best-case scenario, MLB is probably going to have to follow through with some version of its Arizona for at least the early part of the season. Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker warned Thursday that there wouldn’t be any large events in the state until a vaccine was available, which almost certainly means no sporting events with fans this summer. While that still leaves open the possibility of playing in an empty Wrigley Field, that’s nothing more than a pipe dream at this point.
As always, this situation is fluid and will probably remain so for quite some time. That rules out most or all of the merit in trying to predict anything one way or the other, so the only thing we can really do is hope everyone keeps their distance and washes their hands and helps us get to the point where this whole mess can be managed in the meantime.