As Major League Baseball considers any number of plans and scenarios to return, it’s probably worth noting that there is more to the push for its resumption than just the sport’s own personal interest. There is, and will increasingly be, political pressure for baseball to come back.
If you doubt that, note that Senate Majority Mitch McConnell was interviewed by a Louisville radio station yesterday and, during the interview, said that he called MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred to push for baseball’s return.
“I called the commissioner of baseball a couple of weeks ago and I said, ‘America needs baseball. It’s the sign of getting back to normal. Any chance?’” McConnell said. He added, “It would be a great morale booster for the country and an indication that we’re going to begin to get back to normal.”
It’s hard to disagree with McConnell when he says that people would be happy for baseball to return. But given how there is an increasingly strong push from certain corners of America’s political class to simply re-open, regardless of what public health officials recommend, it’s not unreasonable to be wary of re-opening advice that is primarily symbolic or even political in nature as opposed to advice grounded in medical and scientific expertise. What is safe vs. what is unsafe is not a matter of mere opinion and one cannot defeat a pandemic via symbolism.
Anyway, That report came out yesterday evening. Also yesterday evening:
Early July remains MLB’s target for a season. Spring training would likely be 3 weeks, plus 2 weeks for those who wish to come early. With minor leagues not too likely (but not canceled to this point) MLB rosters are expected to be expanded, and there may be a taxi squad as well.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) April 30, 2020
Ultimately, when baseball settles on a plan to return, it will be obligated to justify its plans scientifically and medically. Here’s hoping that, and not pressure from the likes of Mitch McConnell, is what leads the decision making process.