A couple of news stories that seem unrelated at first, but strike me as having a common theme, caught my eye this week because they are both related to whether baseball can return safely in 2020.
A renovation of the University of Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium was slowed earlier this week when it was revealed that at least 10 construction workers had tested positive for COVID-19. While that would be enough to slow the construction project, the bigger issue is one of uncertainty and transparency. AL.com reported that hundreds of workers were lined up for tests and the construction site, while reopened, was basically a ghost town:
An outbreak of the coronavirus at Bryant-Denny Stadium has endangered the safety of the construction crew and subcontractors working on the University of Alabama’s renovation project, AL.com has learned.
More than 10 people have tested positive for COVID-19, according to people familiar with the outbreak, but the number could be much higher. With so many exposures, there is a fear that more positive cases linked to the job site are inevitable.
The large number of positive tests means, essentially, everyone at the job site could have been exposed.
Meanwhile, in Florida the entire state’s database came under scrutiny when the manager of the COVID-19 dashboard was fired. She claims she was removed from the project under pressure to change data while the Governor’s office disputes that claim. Either way, the result is the same a dataset that is opaque and uncertainty about the numbers coming out of Florida.
Which brings us to baseball and the ongoing discussions between the players and the league on whether they will be able to bring baseball back in 2020 and what that might look like. Al had a great breakdown of what I consider to be the most comprehensive piece on the topic from ESPN this week. But two of the unspecified ingredients in that plan being successful are transparency and certainty. For their plan to work players and baseball staff need to trust that the league is being upfront with them about tests, data and procedures. The league needs to trust that the information it’s getting from cities, states and labs is correct. While I’m hopeful that level of transparency and certainty from MLB stakeholders is possible, I’m skeptical we live in a world that can guarantee it at this point in time.
*I’ll save Al the trouble of a “no partisan politics in the comments” disclaimer. The point of this post is transparency and certainty as necessary preconditions to baseball coming back in 2020, not who’s correct in the Florida case.