Agent Scott Boras penned an op-ed for the New York Times, published today with the title, “We Have to Bring Baseball Back.” As the title suggests, Boras writes in favor of Major League Baseball resuming sooner rather than later.
Boras cited baseball’s role as a healing salve following previous tragedies such as the attacks on Pearl Harmor, the Sept. 11 attacks, and the Boston Marathon bombing. He mentions that our social isolation efforts have helped but have also led to “increased stresses of every type and a diminishing of the social tapestry that binds and enhances our lives.” He also claims “people are understandably restless and looking for an outlet.” The agent states, “It is time again for baseball to serve.”
Boras pointed out that baseball resumed in South Korea with the KBO League, suggesting that the same can be done here. However, as Craig noted earlier, there are some major differences between the way South Korea tackled the pandemic and the way the U.S. did (or, perhaps more accurately, did not). It’s also worth pointing out that Boras has a financial incentive for Major League Baseball to resume. The more games that are played, the more his clients are paid and, subsequently, the more he is paid. He is not exactly an impartial observer.
Many of the people clamoring for a return to normalcy are almost exclusively people of varying levels of privilege. The workers we have only recently deemed “essential” — nurses, grocery store shelf stockers, pharmacists, janitors, etc. — never got a say in whether or not they want to risk their lives on a daily basis. They do it because they have to, because bills need to be paid and their families need to be fed, to be clothed, to have shelter. And, largely, they’re not the ones suggesting we re-open the country before we have even gotten a handle on the pandemic. Those of some degree of privilege — those of us who can work from home, who can withstand furloughs and layoffs, who have the time to binge-watch everything on Netflix — can envision a return to normal because they are not on the front lines making “normal” a reality.
Clayton Kershaw and Mike Trout, among other players, have balked at some of the ideas thrown out recently that would allow baseball to come back. Some of the ideas have been more extreme, like isolating players in Arizona or Florida or Texas or somesuch, which ESPN’s Jeff Passan described as turning into a “city within a city.” Other somewhat more “normal” ideas have teams playing their home games at their regular home ballparks in a shortened season that runs into late into the fall. What all of the ideas have in common is a big ask for the players, umpires, grounds crew, training staff, et. al. to live in isolation for months at a time. If we’re going to do this, we need to have the right motivations and we need to do it safely.