One week from today, the Cubs and Brewers are scheduled to begin the 2020 60-game schedule at Wrigley Field, at 6:10 p.m CT. Thursday, it was announced that Kyle Hendricks would get the nod as the Opening Day (seems strange to be writing that phrase in July) starter, well deserved, an honor for a guy who’s been very consistent over his six-year career to date.
I should be excited about this, baseball returning, I have missed it terribly.
And yet, I find my enthusiasm level middling at best. With COVID-19 cases increasing across the country, it doesn’t feel right to be starting sports in these conditions. What happens if players test positive, what happens if a coach or manager has to be hospitalized, is it worth it?
Washington Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle said it best, I think, and this was almost two weeks ago:
Here it is. The question was about some owners recently suggesting that there could be fans in parks later this season. Sean Doolittle's answer touched on a lot more: pic.twitter.com/M1eFONQpPZ— Jesse Dougherty (@dougherty_jesse) July 5, 2020
“Sports are like the reward of a functioning society.” Well said.
Maybe MLB can pull it off. Maybe once there are actual games to watch, I’ll get into the rhythm of things. It all remains to be seen.
I also wanted to point out that we’re not out of the woods yet for COVID-19 cases in Chicago, which have been increasing, especially among young people:
Young people are driving the uptick in new cases, with people age 18-29 now accounting for 30 percent of coronavirus cases reported in recent weeks in Chicago, officials said.
The Lincoln Park area is the spot that’s seen the most increases in cases of people age 18-29.
So far, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker have been supportive of the Cubs and White Sox efforts to play in Chicago, but just two days ago Lightfoot said the city was close to moving back from Phase 4 to Phase 3 of reopening:
“Some of you have joked that I’m like the mom who will turn the car around if you’re acting up,” Lightfoot said with Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady at her side. “No, friends. It’s actually worse. I won’t just turn the car around. I’m going to shut it off, I’m going to kick you out and I’m going to make you walk home. That’s who I am. That’s who I must be.
“But I don’t want to be that person if I don’t have to, but I will if you make me, and right now we are on the precipice,” she added. “We are dangerously close to going back to a dangerous state of conditions.”
The Tribune article cited “young people flocking to bars and restaurants” and this is particularly problematic in the area around Wrigley Field (and Lincoln Park, as noted above). If the MLB season begins as scheduled a week from today, does anyone think the Wrigleyville-area bars wouldn’t be jammed with people, just trying to be close to Wrigley and to watch the game? Watching the game on TV in a bar could be the draw, especially if Comcast/Xfinity and Marquee Sports Network don’t come to an agreement by then and a large number of people wouldn’t have access to seeing the game at home.
It seems to me that despite all the precautions taken by many sports leagues, some aren’t taking the coronavirus pandemic seriously enough. The University of Illinois announced Thursday that they’d be allowing 20 percent capacity at Memorial Stadium in Champaign for games this fall, though tailgating will be banned and masks would be required.
20 percent capacity at Memorial Stadium is just over 12,000. How do you enforce social distancing with that many people? How do you enforce mask wearing? That’s a disaster waiting to happen, that is, if the college football season happens at all.
Meanwhile, MLB is going ahead with its plan to begin play next week. Maybe they’ll make it work. But with COVID-19 cases increasing almost everywhere, particularly in states with multiple MLB teams such as Florida, Texas and California, baseball owners might want to reconsider their plan.
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What’s your enthusiasm level for the 2020 60-game season?
This poll is closed
Full speed ahead — ready for baseball, let’s go!
Skeptical they can pull it off
MLB should shut things down right now and begin again in 2021
Something else (leave in comments)