The Danny Picard Show

This week, Danny reacted to Major League Baseball’s “health-and-safety” proposal in its negotiation with players:

As the four major professional sports leagues try to figure out a viable strategy to play games again, Major League Baseball has provided the most aggressive rule changes so far, in its attempt to prevent the spread of Coronavirus if and when the league resumes play this season.

MLB’s 67-page safety proposal to the Players Association leaked to the media this week, and in it saw several outrageous rules that would change many aspects of the game of baseball.

Outside of these rule changes — which I’ll react to in a moment — MLB and MLBPA are also negotiating the non-safety aspects of a return with a shortened season. The biggest issue there, of course, is money. Owners have proposed a 50-50 split with the players, and based on the initial reaction from the players, that’s something they just won’t agree to.

But let’s say the two sides can eventually come to some sort of financial agreement. The only issue then would be that of the players’ safety during this pandemic. To which, MLB’s 67-page safety proposal attempts to manage those safety concerns. However, one could accurately describe the proposal as outrageous.

How outrageous, you ask? Well, let’s take a look:

COVID testing
-The league is prepared to provide 10,000 COVID-19 tests per week for players, team personnel, other essential employees, and their family members. This would include each person being tested multiple times per week, while players would also have multiple daily temperature screenings. Those who test positive will be forced into quarantine, and will not be able to return until they test negative twice. The big question here though is: Will there be enough testing available?

Players in the stands
-According to reports of the leaked safety proposal, each team will be allowed to have 50 players on the roster. Those players and team personnel who are not participating in games will sit in the stands of the empty stadiums and will be separated by six feet or more.

Non-contact celebrations
-Walk-off home runs would definitely look pretty weird under these proposed rules, which will not allow high fives, fist bumps, or hugs. I’m honestly not sure how the league will be able to enforce this non-contact rule. Will they fine Rafael Devers if he high fives J.D. Martinez after a two-run home run to give the Red Sox a lead in a big game? Seems impossible to eliminate the high five or the fist bump.

No spitting
-Another one that seems impossible to eliminate. Just how, exactly, are you going to tell players they can’t spit on the field during games? It might sound crazy to some, but spitting is part of the game. The only sport in which you don’t see players spitting is the NBA. Telling ballplayers they can’t spit is like telling them they can’t blink. I don’t see how this rule will work.

Keep the baseballs clean
-After a ball is touched by multiple players, it will be thrown away. This one is doable, as every MLB game uses a countless number of balls. Though, under this new rule, throwing the ball around the infield — let’s say, after a strikeout with nobody on base — will be discouraged.

Other safety measures
-Players will be required to wear masks everywhere they go, except when they’re on the field of play or while taking part in training activities.
-On the road, players will not be allowed to leave their hotel.
-Also, on the road, players will not be allowed to take taxis or use any ride-sharing apps like Uber or Lyft.
-Players will be advised not to shower at the stadiums after games.
-Players who are considered to be “high-risk individuals” that are vulnerable to Coronavirus are allowed to opt-out of playing.

Overall, I expect the Players Association to do some tweaking to these proposed safety guidelines. In my opinion, at least, this proposal seems a little over the top. I can understand the need for testing, but once the games begin, you can’t control in-game physical contact or how many times a player spits. And good luck keeping players in their hotels while they’re on the road, especially when they’re in a city that is no longer on Coronavirus lockdown.

So, after reading this, are you at all convinced that we’ll see baseball in 2020? Because I’m not.

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