Hello baseball, it’s me -- COVID-19. I’m here, I’m there, I’m everywhere. I’m so big, I’m going to pull a Joel Embiid and give myself a nickname -- The Ubiquitous 1-9.
I apologize for bringing out the worst in you, and by you I mean the owners and the players union. I was really surprised it took so little time for you to map out the health protocols to prevent me from invading your clubhouses and ballparks, but you could not make any headway on your dollar disagreements even after months and months of talking at each other.
You probably shouldn’t feel too confident about those 67 pages of health protocols, either. Did you see Tuesday’s news? Two more Phillies players and two additional staff members have COVID-19. For those of you scoring at home, that’s seven Phillies players and five staff members infected by the coronavirus.
Don’t feel too bad, though. Ubiquitous 1-9 is a multisport virus. Novak Djokovic is the No. 1 tennis player in the world, but that did not prevent him from coming down with COVID-19 after returning to the court in an exhibition tour.
Pick a team in college football and do a web search to see if it has been infected by COVID-19. You might be surprised to learn how many places where the answer is yes, and the programs are only in the voluntary workout phase of their summer training. In January, LSU and Clemson played for a national championship. This month, they have both been unable to defend against COVID-19.
Sooner or later baseball, you’re going to have to start answering some tough questions about playing in a COVID-19 world.
Here are some questions with some likely COVID-19 answers:
_If the season begins and the three best players on one team all get infected, doesn’t that pretty much end any chance that team has of making the playoffs during a 60-game season?
The COVID-19 answer: What has happened to the Phillies is proof that this scenario could definitely occur once play resumes. The fans are going to either laugh at you or be infuriated with you if you start the season and have to stop it.
_How are you going to prevent players from going out at night on the road when all the states have reopened?
The COVID-19 answer: We know your protocol prohibits team personnel from eating at restaurants, but if you have seen what has been going on around the country since it reopened, you can’t possibly be confident that all players will abide by this guideline.
_No spitting? Really?
The COVID-19 answer: Too busy laughing. The over-under on this rule being followed is a half-inning at each ballpark. It’s really not funny, however, because that long-running habit of baseball players could be a coronavirus super spreader.
_Is baseball hopeful its protocols can work because of the success of the KBO at guarding against the coronavirus?
_What are you going to do if someone dies from the virus?
The COVID-19 answer: The virus, based on the data, is more of a spreader than a killer in young people. But just one death of a player, coach, manager, or anybody else who makes a living around the ballclub will be a tragedy that is never forgotten and should never be forgiven.
Without the Ubiquitous 1-9, it looked like the 2020 baseball season had some real promise. At the very least, it was going to help fans get past the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal. COVID-19 did that instead. You’re welcome, Houston.
Now, despite Ubiquitous 1-9′s far-reaching presence, the games will go on even though you players and owners seem to really despise each other. You’ll get your TV revenue and you’ll at least get a glimpse of the future with the universal designated hitter.
You’ll also get a chance to see if you like the gimmick of starting a runner at second base with nobody out in extra innings. It’s a little bit like the three-on-three overtime and shootout in the NHL. The traditionalists will tell you they hate it, but they’ll watch it and find it entertaining.
I really liked the idea of expanded playoffs, especially after a 60-game season, but you guys messed that up.