Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the most important figures in the current coronavirus pandemic, has given baseball fans a sign of hope that there will be baseball this summer, albeit without fans in stadiums. During an interview with Snapchat on Wednesday, Dr. Fauci outlined a scenario in which professional sports could return this summer.
The scenario involves athletes playing in empty stadiums and meets many of the same criteria for MLB’s proposed plan of playing the 2020 season exclusively in stadiums in the Phoenix metropolitan area and players sequestered in hotels when they’re not on the field.
“There’s a way of doing that,” Fauci explained. “Nobody comes to the stadium. Put (the players) in big hotels, wherever you want to play, keep them very well surveilled. … Have them tested every single week and make sure they don’t wind up infecting each other or their family and just let them play the season out.”
ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported last week that one of the ideas MLB was considering involved all 30 teams relocating to Phoenix and using Chase Field and spring training venues in the Phoenix area to host games with no fans in attendance. Such a plan would seem to fall in line with what Fauci said was a reasonable scenario for pro sports leagues.
Obviously, testing for COVID-19 would have to become more widespread before pro sports leagues can even consider returning to action. But assuming testing eventually becomes more widely available and public health experts can better track the disease, sending up shop under the circumstances Fauci outlined would become a feasible idea.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey said earlier this week that he’s spoken with MLB about the whole league relocating to his state and says he’s open to the idea when the time is right.
Of course, putting that idea into action has plenty of potential obstacles. MLB would need both the owners and Players Union to agree to the circumstances for starting the season.
The league would also have to work out plenty of logistical issues if all 30 clubs were to be staying in hotels in the Phoenix metro area. There’s also been a little pushback and skepticism from a few players who question whether the idea makes sense.
“We want to get back as soon as we can, but obviously it’s got to be realistic,” Angels superstar Mike Trout said Wednesday. “It can’t be sitting in our hotel rooms, just going from the field to the hotel room and not being able to do anything. I think that’s pretty crazy.”
Other players have also expressed concerns about being away from their families for months at a time. Managers, coaches, and staff members who would be with the players in Arizona could have similar concerns as well.
Even if the Players Union were to agree to MLB’s Arizona plan or a similar idea, some players may not be on board.
Needless to say, we’re still a significant amount of time from having baseball back. However, for an expert like Dr. Fauci to outline a scenario in which it’s possible is surely a reason to be optimistic.
At the moment, MLB is still kicking the tires on any idea that could possibly work and doesn’t appear to be in a rush to make a decision. In the end, there’s no guarantee that the Arizona idea will turn into a reality.
But with Dr. Fauci giving his support to such an idea, there’s a reason to believe we might see baseball this summer one way or another.
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