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Rob Manfred thinks there should be some fans at the LCS and World Series

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This is almost certainly a bad idea.

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Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, likely home of the 2020 World Series
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

No fans have been in attendance at any Major League Baseball game in 2020.

But Commissioner Rob Manfred, speaking at an online event Monday, thinks there should be some fans allowed at some postseason games, per Evan Drellich in The Athletic:

“I’m hopeful that the World Series and the LCS we will have limited fan capacity,” Manfred said. “I think it’s important for us to start back down the road. Obviously it’ll be limited numbers, socially distanced, protection provided for the fans in terms of temperature checks and the like. Kind of the pods like you saw in some of the NFL games. We’ll probably use that same theory. But I do think it’s important as we look forward to 2021 to get back to the idea that live sports, they’re generally outdoors, at least our games. And it’s something that we can get back to.”

Just because the NFL (and some college football teams) are doing this doesn’t make it a good idea. We don’t yet know whether the gatherings at some football games over the last couple of weeks will lead to COVID-19 outbreaks.

MLB has actually done a pretty good job of playing safely during the novel coronavirus pandemic. There have been some disruptions to the schedule for a number of teams, but the number of positive COVID-19 tests has been pretty small. After some of the first outbreaks and the noted breaking of protocols by Indians pitchers Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac, protocols were tightened. To our knowledge, no one has become seriously ill from COVID-19 since the baseball season started.

But now they want to add fans to this? Well, Manfred did say “hopeful,” and to that, I’d add: Since the LCS and World Series are apparently going to be played in a bubble (pending MLBPA approval), per Jeff Passan at ESPN.com, how many people in Houston, San Diego or the Dallas area are going to pay what’s likely to be inflated prices to watch a team they’re not a fan of? The proposed plan has the NLCS in Houston, the ALCS in San Diego and the World Series in the Rangers’ new park, Globe Life Field (pictured above). Since the Rangers are pretty much out of contention this year, no team in those rounds will be playing in its home park.

Sure, there are Cubs fans everywhere, and the Yankees and Dodgers also have national fanbases. But what if the ALCS is (say) between the Rays and Blue Jays? How many people would want to pay for that?

Manfred added:

“Now there are a few, very few jurisdictions where those rules have been loosened up to the point that we actually could go ahead with fans. I decided that we were deep enough into the regular season that to try, even in those limited markets … to try to gin it up with a short period of time left in the regular season did not seem to be a good judgment in my view.

“Again, I hope for the postseason, we’ll have some limited fan presence in ballparks. I think it would be a good thing just in terms of getting people used to the idea being back in the ballpark, and again, I think the trick in terms of what’s going to happen next year, it’s dependent on the virus. The virus controls and it’s ‘do you have a vaccine? Are we still seeing spikes?’ That’s going to drive what local governments are going to allow us to do.”

He’s right when he says “the virus controls.” And that’s not just for next year, it’s now, because there’s a strong possibility that we see a spike in cases as we get deeper into autumn.

There’s obviously a lot of money involved here, both for this year’s postseason and for baseball games in 2021. Obviously that’s where Manfred is coming from. Maybe he’s just thinking out loud. Right now I don’t see having fans at baseball games as being a good idea, and it’s entirely possible we get into 2021 and still can’t have gatherings of that size. Personally, I miss going to baseball games terribly and would love to go to one. But it just doesn’t seem like the safe thing to do.

As I noted above, baseball’s done a pretty good job of operating safely in 2020. I hope they keep it that way and don’t have fans in attendance this year.

Poll

MLB should allow some fans at the LCS and World Series this year...

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    Definitely! Games will be better with fans!
    (79 votes)
  • 51%
    No way. It’s still too dangerous with COVID-19 around and no vaccine
    (142 votes)
  • 19%
    It depends
    (54 votes)
  • 0%
    Something else (leave in comments)
    (2 votes)
277 votes total Vote Now