Major League Baseball has released its medical protocols proposal to the MLB Players Association, and reports from the 67-page document paint a detailed look at how to play baseball amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
It also seems a bit complicated.
NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Phillies insider Jim Salisbury joined Mike Tirico’s Lunch Talk Live on Monday to break down the proposed protocols, which include limits and rules on things like hotel stays, traveling to and from ballparks, and even showering after games.
Salisbury said he sees some rules that will be tough for players to embrace, and others that seem hard to enforce.
“I think of some of these pitchers who love to do the hot and cold compresses, the hot and cold whirlpools, the contrast whirlpools, after games,” Salisbury said Monday, “and I guess they wouldn’t be able to do that. Sitting in the dugouts, sitting in the stands, you can’t talk to the third base coach, throwing out balls after you use them and touch them.
“It’s going to be – I think baseball players are really creatures of routine, and creatures of habit. I mean, they spit a lot. They don’t even know they’re spitting. It’s in their subconscious. It’s in their ballplayer DNA. Things like that are going to be very, very difficult for these guys to break. Chewing sunflower seeds in the outfield.
“I just wonder how this stuff is going to be policed, and is there going to be a punishment if you do stuff like this?”
The question of policing these rules is a big question, considering these are uncharted waters for MLB, and for pro sports at large.
Tirico asked Salisbury whether he thinks, if these protocols can be shaped into something player-friendly, and things seem to be safe for all involved, the players and owners will be able to find common ground in terms of fair pay for a compromised season.
“I do, Mike, and here’s why,” Salisbury explained. “Usually, when these two sides, the old warring factions of the owners and the players, get together and start talking about money, they draw lines and they dig in, there’s rancor early, and they eventually work their way to the middle.
“One of the things with this coronavirus crisis, this shutdown, is you notice there’s a real sense of community out there. You see it in your neighborhoods, in your town, with people. Baseball needs to show that same sense of community. The owners and players need to come together. If health and safety can be worked out, they need to find a way to work out those finances and play some ball.
“Come together, show some community, get back on the field if – and only if – it’s going to be safe for everyone.”
If all that comes together – a big if, no doubt – when could we realistically see games played again?
The popular proposal floating around baseball circles right now, originally suggested by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal in late April, has placed a big target on July 4 as a possible start date.
Tirico asked Salisbury if he thinks the holiday restart is feasible.
“I hope so,” Salisbury said, “and I hope we see it right here in Philadelphia. What better place to go on the Fourth of July?”
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