We still don’t know whether, or if, there will be a 2020 Major League Baseball season. If the Cubs had played their regularly-scheduled game today, it would have been the 30th game of their season. That’s nearly 20 percent of the scheduled season gone already.
So if baseball is played, it’s going to be much later in the summer and on a very different schedule than was originally released. Proposals have been made to play in empty stadiums in Arizona, or in an Arizona/Florida “Cactus/Grapefruit League,” or even in three separate states: Arizona, Florida and Texas.
Monday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she thinks games could be played in Chicago later this summer:
A game that counts in the Major League Baseball standings with the atmosphere of a simulated game?
That’s a potential scenario at Guaranteed Rate Field and Wrigley Field, as Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday she could envision the White Sox and Cubs playing home games this year with one caveat.
“Is it likely to be without fans? Probably,” Lightfoot said at her daily news conference.
It’s well-known that Mayor Lightfoot is a White Sox fan, but that’s not necessarily what’s important here. The mayor is apparently forgetting one thing: The location of Wrigley Field. We have all seen fans gather in the streets around Wrigley for important events that weren’t happening inside the ballpark, such as Game 7 of the World Series in 2016:
So let’s say such a plan is agreed to, and the Cubs begin the season sometime in July with a game against the Brewers at an empty Wrigley Field.
Does anyone think hundreds or even thousands of people wouldn’t try to converge on the streets surrounding the ballpark during such an event, just to be near baseball?
Of course they would. And even presuming that the economy is opened up to the extent that baseball could be played, having people gather in large numbers like that would likely not be permitted. I don’t see gatherings that large allowed till 2021 at the earliest. Staging a game at Wrigley Field would thus require streets around the area to be completely closed — not just to fans but to traffic. This would shut down major arteries in a busy area in Chicago. I just can’t see it working.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker made these remarks Monday when asked about the mayor’s comments:
“Listen, I want to watch a baseball game,” Pritzker said. “But I also know that’s going to be a decision both for the leagues ... and, importantly, I think they, like me, are relying upon the scientists, epidemiologists to help them figure out how do you do that in a safe fashion.
“Do you need to test all the players before they go on the field? Can they really, in contact sports ... how do you do that if you’re supposed to maintain some social distance? Those are all things that are above my pay grade, so to speak, and something that needs to be considered by the leagues and the scientists.”
All of that is true, no doubt, and it means that the best solution to playing Major League Baseball in 2020 is probably one of the “hubs,” whether it be all in Arizona, in Arizona/Florida, or one of the other similar proposals.
We’d all love to see baseball at Wrigley Field again. But I think that realistically, that won’t happen until sometime next year.