Keith Law On MLB: What If There's A Clubhouse Outbreak?

MLB unveiled a potential plan for the 2020 season, but public health – not baseball – will determine whether it comes to fruition

The DA Show
April 29, 2020 - 11:12 am

Major League Baseball is reportedly mulling a plan to begin the 2020 season in late June or early July. The shortened season would feature three 10-team divisions, roughly 100 regular-season games, and an expanded playoff format.

Is this plan feasible?

“It’s really a public health question more than a baseball question,” baseball author Keith Law said on The DA Show. “It’s going to depend on the extent of these ongoing outbreaks. It’s going to depend on availability of testing. Even if you have no fans in the ball park, you have probably 30 players on each roster, plus coaches, support staff, stadium-operations people – that’s a lot of humans to put together in a stadium, often all together in a clubhouse, which is not that big of a space. If one person comes in and they’re carrying the coronavirus, then that’s another outbreak. 

“So I don’t believe it’s going to be possible for any of these strategies to come to fruition unless there’s much wider availability of testing and we’re testing everybody who’s coming into that ball park so that we don’t have any further outbreaks caused by the resumption of baseball.”

Certainly players and owners would like the 2020 season to occur in some format. Owners, especially.

“They carry no risk,” Law said. “The players at least carry the risk. The owners can stay home. They don’t have to bear any risk of infection, and thy can just sit back and if the games are being played, they receive more of their revenues. So there’s plenty of incentive for everyone involved to try to start the season.”

Whether that actually happens, though, depends entirely on the coronavirus. As of now, in late April, it’s difficult to know whether playing baseball in June or July will be feasible.

“It is a public health question and we can’t answer that, first of all, until the situation here has improved, until we’ve clearly passed peak infections – the situation is very different in different parts of the country – and until there’s much wider availability in testing,” Law said. "[Experts] think this can happen, but they emphasized that there’s got to be a lot more testing available and in place before we can really talk about restarting the baseball season.”