McDonald: Baseball Is Back With The COVID Cloud Looming

Maybe it’s just in my bones.

Or maybe it’s me, grasping for hope after not having any sports to watch for the past three and a half months.

But more than likely, it was the two releases that dropped today. One from the Mets and one from the Yankees, laying down the media ground-rules for this unique baseball season that is upon us.

And even though, this year will probably be the most difficult to work though with all these social distancing regulations, there is still an excitement in the air, with the Boys of Summer training starting later today.

It will be a different world, however, with no fans in the stands at the 11 year-old edifices in the Bronx and Queens. Both teams will not just fight the rest of the league, but the Coronavirus itself, as the 2020 season tries to get underway.

“It’s a very extensive document, all designed to put us in the best position to find success and have success,” said Yankees general manager Brian Cashman about MLB’s new safety guidelines.  “Like America and the rest of the world, the effort is to get back to something as close to where you had been prior as soon as you possibly can. And do so with safety and limitations and we are going to try that. I can’t predict how it is going to play out but we look forward to trying.’’

We press on and move forward as summer camps begin to open. Players will be tested for the virus and temperatures taken as baseball looks to get back on the field.

The hope is the game will outlast the attrition it will take due to the pandemic. Already notable players like Ryan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond have opted out of the season and more may follow. If big named players become ill with the virus and suffer complications it may invoke more players to opt out for the season and error on the side of caution rather than take the risk of illness.   

Brian Cashman

“The toughest challenges? I think obviously how we are going to handle the pandemic, COVID environment we are operating in,’’ Cashman said. “Been accustomed over course of time to dealing with injuries as they manifest themselves, but if we have a game tomorrow and your starter shows up and he has a temperature and all of a sudden has symptoms out of the blue right before the start and how do you adjust along the way. And then the connectivity to that and obviously the roster you have to deal with.’’

The Mets have already bulked up, signing veterans like Melky Cabrera and Hunter Strickland, adding them to their 60-man pool and the Yankees may follow suit. The team with the deepest depth may have the best chance over the 60 game season.

It’s going to be different, that’s for sure. A slow start may spell doom for any team, due to the abbreviated season. A National League DH should help a team like the Mets find room for their aging veterans like Yoenis Cespedes and Robinson Cano.

The Yankees already have a depth in their team line up but could fall victim to the abbreviated schedule not allowing time for the team to gel.

Every day the virus will loom overhead like the Sword of Damocles on this baseball season. It could doom a team or even the season, depending on how many players get infected.

Fortunately, the players have access to top tier health care and are in good health. Their chances for recovery should be strong. Assuming, that no players have compromised immune issues.

It took us three months to get here. We patiently and at times not so patiently waited for two months for the pandemic to subside and another month arguing over money. Hopefully, the insurgence of the virus hitting the South and the West won’t cause a problem in baseball, but that needs to be watched, as well.

All of this to get back some sort of semblance of normalcy and hopefully give us a taste of what we have been missing.

Life needs to go on and with baseball back in business, it feels like we are getting back to life pre-covid. We can breathe a little sigh of relief.

Just a little bit.

 

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