Major League Baseball is eager to find a path toward its delayed Opening Day, and league officials have taken a large step toward that goal by compiling a comprehensive set of precautionary measures for the sport’s return.
According to a draft of the league’s health-and-safety manual, the MLB’s rules of a return to the baseball diamond include processing approximately 10,000 COVID-19 tests per week, among a long list of other measures.
Experts who’ve reviewed the document note the incredible amount of information included in the plans, and are unconvinced all preparations can be made for a mid-June “spring training” period and early July season commencement.
While the manual is thorough and sweeping, not all questions regarding the safety of a return to play have been answered. Some expect that the health-and-safety document is designed, at least in part, as a tool to help along with negotiations between the league and players, a significant number of which have expressed their concerns over health-related challenges.
The league office has asked teams to respond with their suggestions and concerns by May 22, allowing for any necessary changes to be made as soon as possible.
According to the plan, preseason activities would be broken down into three stages. The reporting of pitchers and catchers in the first phase would be followed by the reporting of position players, then a limited number of exhibition games in the third phase.
Spitting, High-Fives Among List of Prohibited Activities
The all-inclusive list of health-related restrictions and protocols included in Major League Baseball’s proposed plan covers travel, stadium setup, on-field rules, and more.
Players not participating in the contest would sit in the stands, allowing for the proper level of social distancing. The same would be true during the playing of the National Anthem.
The on-field restrictions and suggestions will likely be more difficult to follow for players in a sport where repetition and routine are baked into the core.
Major League Baseball is prohibiting spitting, high-fives, fist-bumps, as well as the use of sunflower seeds and chewing tobacco in its plan for a return amid the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, fielders will be “encouraged to retreat several steps away from the baserunner” in between pitches.
First- and third-base coaches will not be permitted to approach baserunners or umpires. However, it’s unclear what sort of punishments will be handed out for breaking such rules.
Further health and safety restrictions include throwing away any baseball touched by multiple players. Pitchers will have their own set of baseballs to use for bullpen sessions.
During postgame procedures, players will be discouraged from showering at the stadium, and any taxis or ride-sharing services will be disallowed.
According to Major League Baseball’s plan, players would undergo multiple temperature screenings each day and would be tested for COVID-19 multiples times per week. Players’ families would also be tested.
Apart from being on the field or participating in strenuous activities, players would be required to wear a mask at all times.
Current MLB Betting Options
If you’re placing a bet on player futures regarding the 2020 season, you’ll be hoping that baseball can find a way to play at least 75 games — the minimum requirement for bets to stand regarding MVP, Cy Young, and other player-related bets.
To win the American League MVP, Mike Trout is a heavy favorite with odds of +140. He leads the likes of Aaron Judge (+1200) and Francisco Lindor (+1200).
To win the National League MVP, Mookie Betts (+600) leads a tight grouping of five players that also includes Christian Yelich (+700), Cody Bellinger (+800), Juan Soto (+900), and Ronald Acuna Jr. (+900).
Both the Dodgers and Yankees lead all teams as the frontrunners to win the World Series with odds of +380. The Astros stand alone as the third-ranked contender with odds of +750.