The heat of summer, was on full display today as baseball training camps re-opened. Both in the Bronx and in Queens, the Mets and Yankees started working out in order to get the season started in about three weeks from now.
But baseball wasn’t the only thing on display. The pandemic was ever present, with new social distancing protocols in place and the players working out in staggered groups and in various areas around both stadiums.
No High-5s. No spitting sunflower seeds. If you aren’t a player, you are wearing a mask and everything is carefully policed.
Mets manager Luis Rojas even addressed his team through zoom conferences, as the team was split up all over the stadium.
“The No. 1 thing is the health of everyone here and that we’re fulfilling the protocols,” Rojas said. “So the guys are able to go out on the field and we can focus on our baseball.”
It may seem a bit extreme, after all most of us go to the local grocery store and are forced to be less than six feet from someone, but baseball is worried about the optics of the situation.
The game isn’t necessary right now. No matter how big of a fan you are, deep down inside you know life will go on if baseball isn’t played. And the players have made so much money, they will keep food on the table without a season.
But MLB is trying to get some semblance of normal out there, but wants to make sure the optics are good for the viewing public.
Today, the league announced 38 people tested positive for COVID-19 from the intake screenings the last few days out of 3,185 tests. Of that number 31 are players and seven are staff.
It’s a 1.2% positive rate, which looks okay, but in all honesty, MLB is more worried about the one positive test that puts a player in the ICU.
You see, the worst thing that happens with non-symptomatic infested players is that they are lost for a few weeks, which is a shame for the competitive balance, but these players will recover and come back.
However, if a player gets infected and ends up in the hospital, it’s the worst case scenario for baseball. The virus will have a name attached to it and you will only hope and pray for that player’s recovery.
More importantly, everyone will know, that infection was preventable. If MLB didn’t come back, that player would have not been in that situation in the first place.
It would be a tragedy on every level.
That’s why the COVID protocols are so stringent and there is a new normal in baseball. If the precautions weren’t taken to an extreme, baseball would be opening itself up to one of it’s worst tragedies in its history.
Let’s pray that doesn’t happen, as today was a great day for everyone who follows the game.
Baseball has always been an elixir for a fragile national psyche. Let’s hope it continues to be in 2020.
And not become a victim to the pandemic.