Should baseball come back this year?

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This is a time of year typically spent with family. Many of us are celebrating Easter today. Many others have been celebrating Passover since Thursday. Whether it be a big Easter dinner or a Seder, or for any other holiday or occasion for that matter, we like to come together as family. Family is important.

That’s one of the many reasons that the various contingency plans being floated by MLB to resume the season in some capacity this year are bothering me. Whether it be the total lockdown in Arizona or playing out the season by continuing the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues, resumption of play would hinge on the players, coaches and all imaginable support staff would need to be stringently monitored and quarantined. There would need to be regular testing, daily (if not more often) temperature-taking, constant disinfection of all surfaces, and social distancing at all possible times. The Arizona plan outright calls for players to be separated from their families.

That’s no way to live. The players would be treated like livestock or robots, not like people. It’s putting profit before common sense. There would need to be a small army of supporting workers (drivers, trainers, doctors, cooks, nutritionists, etc.) who would deserve the exact same level of care. Those workers would deserve a level of pay that would be appropriate for putting their lives in harm’s way.

Stephanie Apstein of Sports Illustrated laid out all the problems better than I ever could. There are too many hurdles, too many loose ends, too many little cruelties.

We keep hearing of baseball as a potential great healing factor. We keep being reminded of how Franklin Roosevelt made sure that baseball continued on through World War II as a way to enrich the lives of the people who were supporting the war effort at home. Surely there could be a way for baseball and all the other sports to take on that same healing role, no?

This isn’t a war. It’s a pandemic. Its battles are being fought not with guns and bombs, but with ventilators and test kits. The people on the front lines have far too little ammunition. Though we have something of an idea of the scope of the pandemic within America’s borders, we cannot know for sure just how bad things are without widespread testing. We can’t possibly expect that a large stockpile of test kits be set aside for the purpose of letting a private non-essential business operate.

Moreover, having the league operate feels morally ambiguous at best. Yes, play would resume when the CDC gives MLB the green light. That would theoretically come at a time when the spread of the virus has been contained and minimized. But just because the curve on the graph has trended downward for a long enough period doesn’t mean that there still won’t be healing to be done.

Yes, having baseball on the television again would be a welcome relief. But spending money and valuable resources on that and not on helping families in need would be misguided and greedy. Millions of Americans are out of work, and that number will only go up. So too will the number of families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19.

Creating a sanitary and safe environment to play the game before the full scale implementation of a vaccine is going to be incredibly expensive. Baseball is a business and America is a capitalist society, but surely we can all agree that our desire to see our favorite players in action again comes second to looking out for each other and giving aid to those who have seen their very existences torn asunder.

Many of the players themselves have expressed distaste for these proposals. Nationals closer Sean Doolittle and his wife Erieann Dolan gave some wonderfully insightful thoughts on the matter to The Daily Beast. Phillies starter Zack Wheeler said he would refuse to miss the birth of his first child in three months’ time.

We probably won’t have a vaccine until 12-18 months from now. Just one positive test, whether it be a player, coach, trainer or hotel worker who catches the virus, would render the entire quarantine league moot.

The idea of trying to play baseball under these circumstances, even in an all-too distant future where even just a trickle of normalcy has returned to our lives, makes my skin crawl. People are dying. People are having their livelihoods wiped away. Families are grieving. Risking more workers to exposure and using up resources just for the sake of sports feels pointless.

The moment we are all living in right now is bigger than all of us, bigger than any sport or any league. We have a duty as a people to treat it that way. It’s perfectly normal to seek a distraction, to want to feel as if the world isn’t on fire. And it’s in fact healthy to do so. You shouldn’t be constantly subjecting yourself to the horrors of our reality if you can avoid doing so.

That doesn’t mean that it would be okay for baseball to try to bring itself back this way. Our desire to watch sports doesn’t mean a damn thing right now. What matters is safety and health. What matters is getting help to those who need it.

Be well. Be safe. Give your families your love. Baseball can wait until a vaccine is ready.

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Olson blasts two HRs, Acuña has 4 hits as Strider, Braves overpower Phillies 11-4

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ATLANTA – Given a seven-run lead in the first inning, Atlanta right-hander Spencer Strider could relax and keep adding to his majors-leading strikeout total.

“That game felt like it was over pretty quick,” Strider said.

Ronald Acuña Jr. drove in three runs with four hits, including a two-run single in Atlanta’s seven-run first inning, and the Braves beat the Philadelphia Phillies 11-4 on Sunday night to split the four-game series.

“Getting a lead first is big, especially when you get that big of a lead,” Strider said. “… When we’re putting up runs, my job isn’t to be perfect. My job is to get outs.”

Following the game, Braves manager Brian Snitker announced right-hander Michael Soroka will be recalled to make his first start since the 2020 season on Monday night at Oakland.

Matt Olson hit a pair of two-run homers for Atlanta, and Strider became the fastest pitcher in modern history to reach 100 strikeouts in a season.

“It’s incredible,” said Acuña through a translator of Strider. “Every time he goes out to pitch it seems like he’s going to strike everybody out.”

Acuña hit a run-scoring triple in the fifth before Olson’s second homer to center. Acuña had two singles in the first when the Braves sent 11 batters to the plate, collected seven hits and opened a 7-0 lead. Led by Acuña and Olson, who had three hits, the Braves set a season high with 20 hits.

Strider (5-2) struck out nine while pitching six innings of two-run ball. The right-hander fired a called third strike past Nick Castellanos for the first out of the fourth, giving him 100 strikeouts in 61 innings and topping Jacob deGrom‘s 61 2/3 innings in 2021 as the fastest to 100 in the modern era.

“It’s cool,” Strider said, adding “hopefully it’ll keep going.”

Olson followed Acuña’s leadoff single with a 464-foot homer to right-center. Austin Riley added another homer before Ozzie Albies and Acuña had two-run singles in the long first inning.

Phillies shortstop Trea Turner and left fielder Kyle Schwarber each committed an error on a grounder by Orlando Arcia, setting up two unearned runs in the inning.

Strider walked Kody Clemens to open the third. Brandon Marsh followed with a two-run homer for the Phillies’ first hit. Schwarber hit a two-run homer off Collin McHugh in the seventh.


Michael Harris II celebrated the one-year anniversary of his major league debut by robbing Schwarber of a homer with a leaping catch at the center-field wall in the second. As Harris shook his head to say “No!” after coming down with the ball on the warning track, Strider pumped his fist in approval on the mound – after realizing Harris had the ball.

“He put me through an emotional roller coaster for a moment,” Strider said.


Soroka was scratched from his scheduled start at Triple-A Gwinnett on Sunday, setting the stage for his final step in his comeback from two torn Achilles tendons.

“To get back is really a feather in that kid’s cap,” Snitker said.

Soroka will be making his first start in the majors since Aug. 3, 2020, against the New York Mets when he suffered a torn right Achilles tendon. Following a setback which required a follow-up surgery, he suffered another tear of the same Achilles tendon midway through the 2021 season.

Soroka suffered another complication in his comeback when a hamstring injury slowed his progress this spring.

Acuña said he was “super happy, super excited for him, super proud of him” and added “I’m just hoping for continued good health.”

Soroka looked like an emerging ace when he finished 13-4 with a 2.68 ERA in 2019 and placed second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting and sixth in the NL Cy Young voting.

The Braves are 0-3 in bullpen committee games as they attempt to overcome losing two key starters, Max Fried (strained left forearm) and Kyle Wright (right shoulder inflammation) to the injured list in early May. Each is expected to miss at least two months.

RHP Dereck Rodriguez, who gave up one hit in two scoreless innings, was optioned to Gwinnett after the game to clear a roster spot for Soroka.


Phillies right-hander Dylan Covey (0-1), claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 20, didn’t make it through the first inning. Covey allowed seven runs, five earned, and six hits, including the homers by Olson and Riley.


Phillies: 3B Alex Bohm was held out with hamstring tightness. … LHP José Alvarado (left elbow inflammation) threw the bullpen session originally scheduled for Saturday. Manager Rob Thomson said there was no report that Alvarado, who was placed on the injured list on May 10, had any difficulty.


Phillies: Following an off day, LHP Ranger Suárez (0-1, 9.82 ERA) is scheduled to face Mets RHP Kodai Senga (4-3, 3.94 ERA) in Tuesday night’s opener of a three-game series in New York.

Braves: Soroka was 1-2 with a 4.33 ERA in eight games with Triple-A Gwinnett. He allowed a combined four hits and two runs over 10 2/3 innings in his last two starts. RHP Paul Blackburn (7-6, 4.28 ERA in 2022) is scheduled to make his 2023 debut for Oakland as he returns from a finger injury.