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The “It Could Be Worse!” Silver Lining Report

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Kansas City Royals v Oakland Athletics
“A Matt can’t give it to a Matt, right?”
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

No, with regard to the pesky corona virus it couldn’t be a whole lot worse, not if you try to keep track of fatalities or unemployment numbers, both of which probably rose during the time it took me to type this sentence.

But this is a baseball blog, so we get to focus in on some of the ways in which things “could be worse, but aren’t” in our current baseball landscape.

Let’s start with the horror that has been no baseball from March 26th through at least the end of June. There are many scenarios that could have played out, or could play out, that haven’t or hopefully won’t.

One is that the A’s were poised to be highly competitive in 2020, and it is not difficult to envision a scenario in which circumstances — tied with the Astros in September or a deep post-season run — forced the team to overlook the possible risks and go “all in” with the innings load for Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk. Perhaps the baseball gods are protecting those platinum arms by maxing out their potential workload at half a season plus the playoffs.

Of course concerns may still lie ahead as pitchers scramble to get ready for a shortened season, try to create a “spring training 2.0” that sufficiently prepares their bodies for the rigors of pitching. But would I opt for a canceled season or a Luzardo elbow-blowout? At least so far no A’s prized pitcher has suffered an avoidable injury and no A’s manager, coach or front office personnel have been tempted to push them too far.

Also, while no A’s players have graced the field so far it is also true that no A’s players have fallen ill. That is very important good news. I want Matt Chapman to be known by historians for his legendary glove, not for being the player who contracted COVID-19 while trying to play a 2020 season. Again, a canceled season would be awful but not as awful as some scenarios in which they play.

But a canceled season is looking less and less likely to me in recent days. Nearly 2 weeks ago I penned an analysis suggesting the hurdles, and likelihood of clearing them, MLB and MLBPA faced. High on the list of potential obstacles was the issue of “sufficient safety” while lower on the list was the squabble over how money would be distributed.

Fast forward 11 days and the two sides have been remarkably aligned, and amicable, around MLB’s first draft of safety protocols. Players’ main objections center around feeling too restricted regarding workout rooms, jacuzzis and the like, showing that owners have, if anything, overreached in protecting players. The concern was that players would be asked, from above, to put their safety at risk in the name of profits and the owners have done a good job of demonstrating that they intend to take safety seriously.

There are also concerns around sufficient testing, but the proposal calls for considerable testing and it’s unclear right now exactly how much access MLB, and the country in general, will have to tests a month from now. So it’s not a contentious concern, just one being kept at the front of the conversation — as well it should be.

On Tuesday, owners will be putting forth a financial proposal and of course there is the possibility of an impasse. But as I opined in my May 12th article, it seems ultimately unlikely that either side will allow the season to be canceled over money at a time when its customers are, as a group, suffering financially to such an extreme degree. That’s a great way to lose a substantial portion of your fan base going forward, with financial repercussions to players and owners long after a vaccine has put the virus in the rear view mirror.

So amidst all the posturing, you hope both sides recognize that financially they will be best off in the long run if they avoid letting money cancel the 2020 season. It will, of course, be interesting and important to see what the owners propose — and you hope it doesn’t insult players to the point of distracting from a common ground compromise.

But if everything goes south, I am trying to keep reminding myself that are actually worse outcomes than to lose the season. Losing Luzardo to a busted arm, or Chapman to COVID, are among the easy examples.

As you weigh in on all this, I’m curious to poll readers as to how likely you feeling it is, at this very moment, that MLB will begin a season (presumably the first week of July). Answer in the poll, but also explain in the comments. Your predictions and $4.50 are guaranteed to get you a latte.

Poll

At this moment, what odds would you give for the season to try to begin first week of July?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    !00% — it’s happening
    (30 votes)
  • 19%
    80%-99% — I’ll be really surprised if it doesn’t happen
    (75 votes)
  • 28%
    60%-80% — Not for sure, but most likely
    (111 votes)
  • 23%
    40%-60% — it’s a coin flip at this point
    (93 votes)
  • 10%
    20%-40% — probably not, but you never know
    (42 votes)
  • 7%
    1%-20% — I’ll be really surprised if it happens
    (30 votes)
  • 2%
    0% — LOL, no chance
    (10 votes)
391 votes total Vote Now