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MLB Bullets hits DEFCON-1

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The game is suspended for a global pandemic. What’s next? There’s no crying in baseball.

MLB: Spring Training-Milwaukee Brewers at Arizona Diamondbacks The Arizona Republic-USA TODAY NETWORK via Imagn Content Services, LLC

This is not hysteria. This is not a hoax. This is the s___ hitting the fan.

A little over two weeks ago, I saw this coming. Once they started postponing Italian soccer matches and playing the others in front of empty houses, I knew it was just a matter of time before it hit MLB and the other North American leagues. I wrote Al and told him we needed to do a piece on it. I even started to do research, but I quickly realized that the “pitch count” I’m on (thanks to SB Nation and the state of California) meant that if I wrote that, there was going to be something else that I couldn’t write. I don’t blame Al for not doing it—he’s doing the work of two people right now. His job and most of mine.

So this isn’t me saying “I told you so.” This is me telling you “I would have told you so, but I couldn’t.”

So the pandemic is here. There’s nothing we can do to stop it. Closing the borders is ridiculous. It’s already here. It doesn’t need to be imported from anywhere anymore. That’s closing the barn door after all the cows left. Or maybe all the wolves got in.

We don’t have enough tests. Thanks to that, we have no real idea of how many people are already infected. South Korea got hit hard by the pandemic, but they’ve managed to limit the damage by an aggressive system of testing and quarantines. Italy didn’t and they are experiencing an existential crisis. The entire country is on lockdown at the moment.

If you think this isn’t serious, that’s what a lot of people in Italy said three weeks ago. The situation in the US is a lot more like Italy than South Korea. People who need to be tested can’t get the test. Or they can’t afford the test. In any case, this country was woefully unprepared for a pandemic and now it’s hitting the fan.

If you don’t think this is going to be bad, Dep posted this chart in the comments yesterday.

Now here’s the good news, such as it is. While we can’t stop the coronavirus from sweeping the world, we can manage it. We can slow the rate of transmission. We can’t give it a chance to infect lots of people all at once, such as at a sporting event. That’s why MLB (and every other major sports league) made this decision yesterday.

I’m sure many of you have seen this pandemic curve, but if you haven’t:

The meaning of this curve is simple. Until a vaccine is developed, people are going to keep getting sick. But if we can keep people from all getting sick at once, we can keep our health system from getting overwhelmed. That’s going to be difficult, but that’s why MLB had to shut down. Until the United States can develop a system of mass testing and quarantines (and I’m pessimistic), then playing baseball games is irresponsible.

I also don’t want to send anyone into a panic. If you’re a generally healthy adult, the odds of you dying from this virus are low. You might not even show any symptoms or the symptoms you do have may be mild. But that’s a big problem as well, because then otherwise healthy people can spread it to people who aren’t so healthy without even knowing they have it. For those in the high-risk demographics, this is very serious.

So unless you’re elderly or have a serious health condition (or you came in contact with a known carrier), I wouldn’t suggest locking yourself in your room and having all your meals delivered. Live your life, but cautiously. Keep your distance from other people. Wash your hands well. Don’t go into work if you feel sick. See your doctor if you do feel sick. Pay attention to people who know what they’re talking about more than me: trained medical professionals.

I’m sorry to go on a rant like this, but there isn’t a lot of baseball news that makes sense after the news of yesterday. Telling you who is going to start on Opening Day is pointless when we don’t know when there will be an Opening Day. And most baseball stories over the past two days have been “Will MLB close down Spring Training?” and those stories are clearly now moot.

Also, I don’t know how many times I’m going to have a platform like this again.

I took my daughter to McDonald’s today after her (regularly-scheduled) doctor’s appointment. I got a soft drink in an “NCAA March Madness” paper cup. I found that ironic.

Her school’s annual “Parent-Student” ‘50’s dance was also postponed. (It used to be a “Daddy-Daughter Dance”, but they wisely updated the name.) It was always one of our favorite days of the year. I even bought some blue suede shoes for the occasion. I hope I still get to use them.

I remember when sports shut down after 9/11 and I remember going a bit batty by they end of the week. But at least the movie theaters were open. I don’t know what I’m going to do without six weeks of sports. Me and Turner Classic Movies may become even better friends than we already are.

Fans of e-sports have to be thinking “It’s our turn, baby!”

OK, for some links, such as they are. Most of the baseball news from the past few days is now out of date.

And tomorrow will be a better day than today, Buster. We’ll get through this together.