The shortsightedness prior to this week has been hard enough to watch and stomach. It has involved a lot of economic wrangling that can be summed up as, “Let’s have both sides cut off their noses to spite their faces.”
Somehow neither side appears able to comprehend that fighting over 5-10 games’ salary, as the owners have done (by refusing to consider a 65-70 game season), or 5% of your pay, as the players have done (by insisting they have to get paid 100% for every single game this year), isn’t worth the loss of revenue you can expect as you alienate your fan base for years to come.
Sure baseball recovered from the 1994-95 work stoppage, but it took years to get fans back and took a deep financial toll on both sides. One can only imagine what damage has already been done, and what more damage will ensue if there is another work stoppage in the next 2 years, and yet both sides are more intent on digging in their heels than they are in playing ball.
All that might pale in comparison to the utter ignorance of science revealed this week. Turns out players have been working out at complexes together in hopes of an impending season, and have been allowed to hangout with family in between trips to the complex.
How could anyone have thought this was anything but practically assurance of COVID outbreaks? The only protocol that made a shred of sense was to require each player to test negative before joining the workouts and then to have the players and coaches strictly sequestered from anyone else.
A group of people, all confirmed uninfected, can sustainably co-mingle for 3 weeks with one another so long as they do not press their luck by breaking the “bubble”. But let hundreds of people each expose themselves to outside family members — and with it all the people those family members have interacted with — and then return to the group?
Of course there were outbreaks in multiple complexes. DUH. As I wrote early in the days of COVIDcasting, the only avenue to a possibly successful season involves testing, and then fully sequestering, the personnel directly involved with each other in delivering baseball games (players, coaches, umpires, broadcasters).
There simply is no other way and this is pretty obvious to anyone who follows the science of the corona virus even moderately. And no, this is not asking of players too big a sacrifice. It is in fact very close to the sacrifice we have all been making for the last 100 days, and that is to be cut off from in-person contact with most of our loved ones. In our case, we still have contact with those we live with and in the players’ case they would have contact only with their teammates.
We have all been living this compromised lifestyle for over 3 months, only in our case we have either been earning far less or we have lost our job entirely. Expecting players to sequester themselves fully in June, July, August, September, October was never unreasonable — it’s just asking them to do a version of what all of us are doing only to do it for far more financial reward.
Players sign contracts to play in Japan or Korea — now that’s separation from family. On what theory did the powers that be think it made a modicum of sense to allow players to get ready for a season by living a lifestyle in which outbreaks were almost inevitable?
So now you have two sides who have been fighting over currently money so that they can both have less in the pot to split in coming years, set back by an outbreak they practically handed an engraved invitation.
I do love the game of baseball, but my word — sometimes it’s hard to respect the wisdom, or even just understand the thinking, of its stakeholders.