We all want baseball back more than ever, but we also know that things will not go on as normal – this goes for both players and fans alike. One of the most common motions in baseball could even be done away with, at least for the time being.
Over the weekend, Major League Baseball released its return-to-play plans. Among the necessary items mentioned would be upwards of 10,000 COVID-19 tests per week, refurbishing stadiums for social distancing, and rigid rules that will help keep everything at an exceptional level medically.
The document, which is still ongoing, is slated to have over 67 pages worth of different sections of information once it is complete. This would serve as a highly detailed roadmap to get players back on the field by mid-June or early July. Clearly, there is still plenty of preparation needed to be done before setting a date in concrete to begin playing games.
Spitting, for one, is proposed to be outlawed in the current proposal of the game returning to normal. This has been associated with the baseball from the beginning of time, whether players had a huge wad of tobacco in their mouths or they were spitting sunflower seeds. If you are involved in the stock market game at all, now may be the time to invest in some of that bubble gum.
More Than That
If you thought the absence of spitting was awkward, the regulations do not end there. High-fives, fist bumps and hugs would also be done away with. In particular, fielders will be “encouraged to retreat several steps away from the baserunners” between pitches.
First- and third-base coaches are not allowed to go near baserunners or umpires, and players can’t even socialize with players on the other team.
Balls will be thrown away after they are touched by several players, and, of course, throwing the ball around the infield will be highly discouraged after recording an out. Pitchers would have their own group of balls to throw during bullpen sessions, and personnel members who rub baseballs with mud for the umpires will be required to wear gloves.
Then, there is also the matter of hygiene and traveling. Players will strongly be encouraged not to shower at the ballparks after games, instead of having to do so back at their homes or hotel rooms. Although, players will certainly be banned from using taxis and ride-sharing apps on the road.
All 30 MLB teams have been asked to answer with their suggested input by May 22. The protocols were written by MLB senior vice presidents Patrick Houlihan, Bryan Seeley, and former MLB pitcher Chris Young – and also vice president Jon Coyles.
MLB plans to break each person into different safety tiers:
- Tier 1: players, on-field personnel and medical personnel
- Tier 2: other “essential” employees, including front-office officials
- Tier 3: cleaning crews, groundskeepers
In addition, the league “will offer free diagnostic and antibody/serology testing for healthcare workers or other first responders in the Clubs’ home cities as a public service.”
“MLB will not formally restrict the activities of Covered Individuals when they are away from work,” the document said, “but will expect the members of each team to ensure that they all act responsibly. The careless actions of a single member of the team places the entire team (and their families) at risk, and teams should agree on their own off-field code of conduct for themselves and their family members to minimize the risk to the team.”
We should find out more about teams and where they currently stand with these new proposals for health and safety. And then, of course, the issue of money still needs to be resolved as well.