April 8, 2020


The "leak" that MLB was kicking around the idea of playing all the 2020 season in a quarantined bubble in Arizona had many people wondering if it is even possible.

The idea is to have all 30 teams live and play in Arizona. No long distant travel. Half of the leagues have spring training facilities in Arizona.

All the teams would be quarantined in their hotels. There would be no fans at any games. The players would be shuttled to parks and hotels.

It is like the players would be inmates in professional baseball jail.

If the idea takes root, a late May early June start was mentioned in reports. That would mean baseball could be the first professional sport to return to action. It would also mean that players would be isolated from the public and their families for 4 months or more.

The reason is simple: medical experts believe there will be no vaccine for COVID-19 for at least a year. Then whether it is effective treatment is uncertain as the virus will continue to mutate.

The players want to play. The players do not get paid if they do not play. The players want to get paid.

The owners want to play games. The owners do not get any revenue without games. The owners want to get paid.

Even if this is a feasible solution, the human cost could be great. For example, will a veteran baseball player who has already made his multi-millions want to stay away from his family during a pandemic? Maybe not.

What happens when the first isolated player comes down with the virus? Is the whole team shut down? What about the hotel workers and team staff? Are they also isolated? The problem with any quarantine is that there will always be some outside contact. Vendors have to supply the hotel. Teams come and go on buses. The locker room is being used by three teams a day. Players will not be in hazmat suits 24/7.

What happens when a player gets injured? Are teams going to start the isolation with their full 40 man rosters? So teams will be paying players not on the active 26 man rosters?  If a player gets injured, he will have to leave confinement to get treatment. He may not be allowed back into the quarantine area because he could have possibly exposed in the outside world. Does the 15 day disabled list turn into a 30 day (15 off and 15 in self-isolation)?

Owners project that 30 percent of their revenue is from fan attendance. If there are no fans, will the players take a 30 percent pay cut? The players are upset with service time issues. A pay cut on top of that would be hard to take.

Arizona summers are hot. Surface of the sun hot. If you have 30 teams trying to play 15 games a day, where will they play? There is only one domed stadium in Phoenix. Night games at spring training facilities? West coast time night games may not cut it for East Coast television broadcasts.

Will MLB force feed new rule changes under the guise of unique circumstances? For example, the runner at second to start the 10th inning. Or not having any extra inning games (allowing ties). Or having a 10 run slaughter rule after 5 innings.

MLB is thinking of ways to salvage its season.  But as the days and weeks drag on in shuttered businesses, work at home environments and daily death tolls reported on newscasts, people may slowly lose interest in rebooting any professional sports season.