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MLB is closing clubhouses to media due to coronavirus

The owners and the Commissioner had a conference call Monday afternoon.

Al Yellon

Over the weekend, the National Hockey League and National Basketball Association announced that they would be closing clubhouses to media in the wake of COVID-19, the coronavirus currently crossing the globe.

Major League Baseball owners and the Commissioner’s office are going to do the same:

This is reportedly a temporary measure:

What this period of time will be has not yet been announced. However, Spring Training games will continue as normal:

On Saturday I wrote about concerns in some metro areas, notably the Bay Area and Seattle, where the virus has spread to more people than in other places, about playing sporting events at all. In that article, I noted that teams were being asked to put contingency plans in place in case they might have to play games elsewhere or in empty stadiums. Relocation of games is apparently an option being considered if necessary:

Some writers are not happy at all about this:

If the clubhouse closure is only temporary — and there doesn’t appear to be any indication it’s more than that — I think this is a bit of an overreaction on the part of the writers. For example, Cubs beat writers have gotten good video from starting players outside the clubhouse at Sloan Park after they leave games this spring, as they have in past springs. Stories can be written from those.

Granted, those “good relationships” referred to above are important and open clubhouses are a way for writers to build those. Again, if this is only a temporary measure, I don’t think the media has anything to worry about.

If MLB uses this as an excuse to keep clubhouses closed once the virus has passed, then sure, that’s an issue.

And, though the league says games will proceed as normal, I suspect they’ll have to add “for now” to that declaration. Things appear to be changing rapidly regarding COVID-19, so to say “we await developments” is pretty obvious.

The Cubs will resume the Cactus League schedule Tuesday against the Giants at Scottsdale Stadium. We’ll see if coverage from beat writers is any different.

UPDATE: MLB has issued an official statement.

“The health and safety of everyone in our communities is of the utmost importance to us. We have been engaging on an ongoing basis with a wide range of public health experts, infectious disease specialists, and governmental agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to obtain the latest information. We are regularly conveying the guidance from these experts to Clubs, players, and staff regarding prevention, good hygiene practices and the latest recommendations related to travel. We are continuing to monitor developments and will adjust as necessary. While MLB recognizes the fluidity of this rapidly evolving situation, our current intention is to play Spring Training and regular season games as scheduled.

“On a temporary basis, effective on Tuesday, only players and essential personnel may enter locker rooms and clubhouses at MLB facilities. In a joint step with other professional sports leagues, we are requiring that Clubs relocate media availabilities to another area in their facilities. Clubs will be expected to provide best efforts in facilitating usual media coverage and access to uniformed personnel and team officials in these alternate settings. Access for and coverage by the BBWAA and all media are vital to our game and we hope to resume normal operations as quickly as possible. We appreciate the media’s cooperation with this temporary step, which is being taken out of an abundance of caution for the best interests of all.”