Sorry, postgame hanger-abouters, your malingering will get you nowhere this summer. As part of its health and safety measures for the dormant 2020 season, MLB will strongly advise players to avoid signing autographs and taking pictures with fans. Using ride-share services is also being advised against, while high fives and spitting are strictly forbidden.
That information comes via USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, who detailed some of the contents of MLB’s “80- to 100-page document addressing safety and health protocols.” Those measures have been at the forefront of the early discussions between the league and players, a process Nightengale says could take up to three weeks to complete. Common sense says the same, since the current desire is to reboot spring training around June 10.
There’s clearly a lot more in that document than just telling players to avoid unnecessary association and expectoration, but there isn’t anything about mandating daily blood tests. Rather, Nightengale said, MLB will check the temperature of everyone entering the ballpark each day. Facilities in South Korea are equipped with infrared cameras that can detect increased body heat, so perhaps MLB will incorporate some of the same.
What’s more, MLB officials have decided against the possibility of a season that stretches into November. As fears of a potential second wave of COVID-19 mount, the latest target date for the conclusion of the postseason has been pushed up to the first week of November. Gee, has anything B.I.G. ever happened in a World Series that ran that deep into the calendar? Limiting the end date effectively rules out more than 100 games and probably makes an 82-game schedule the best possible outcome.
“The story of the virus, infectious diseases and entomology is that there is usually a second wave,” Glenn Copeland, medical advisor for the Toronto Blue Jays, told USA TODAY Sports. “The numbers drop lower and lower in the summer months, it’s less contagious, and people out there get lulled into the second that social distancing isn’t necessary and other precautions aren’t being taken. And then whamo! You’re hit with that second wave.”
The heath and safety of everyone involved remains paramount, but revenue is going to be the real kicker. Owners are going to need a robust postseason in order to recoup losses on a shortened, fan-free season, so the expanded playoffs are really more important than the regular season when you get down to it. That’s why we’ve heard the idea of a huge made-for-TV tournament rather than scrapping the season entirely.
There’s a lot yet to work out on those fronts, but it does seem as though everyone on both sides is committed to making something work provided it can be done safely. Now we just have to wait to see what kind of agreement is reached and then whether it’s able to be enacted.