Phillies, MLB could return as early as May, per report
MLB is trying to save the season and the Phillies could be back soon
A report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan suggests that the Phillies and all of baseball could return to action as early as May with opening day in June.
Passan says that MLB and the MLBPA “are increasingly focused” on a deal that would have all 30 teams play in Arizona in front of no fans.
Arizona has multiple spring training facilities, including the Arizona Diamondbacks ballpark, Chase Field.
As for social distancing, all players, coaches, and personnel would be in “relative isolation” in local hotels, going directly from the ballpark to the hotel.
Passan lays out several other key notes and proposals in his report, which can be found on ESPN.com.
Everyone wants sports, especially baseball, to return as soon as possible. Had the season started on schedule the Phillies would be getting ready for their 12th game of the season on April 7 against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Interestingly, the dimensions at Chase Field are comparable to the Phillies spring training home in Clearwater.
The left field pole and straight away center field in Arizona are one foot further and the right field pole is four feet further than Spectrum Field’s. So, it’s not as if a team that plays more games in a spring training facility will have an advantage playing in a sandbox compared to a team playing in a larger arena.
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Another big issue would be testing and taking virus tests away from other areas of the country. You would need more than 50 tests just for the players alone. Add in the coaching staffs, trainers video and clubhouse staff, grounds crew, broadcasters, security, field staff, etc., and you’re talking about needing to do maybe 200 tests a game, which might be 2,000 test per day.
Multiply that out over what, 145 games and you’re talking nearly 900,000 tests in a season. And that’s with bare-minimum staffing and no fans.
Do you have broadcasters call the game remotely? You still need IT staff setting up and maintaining live streams, stats, and other information.
How will meals work? Players aren’t getting room service at the hotel. Will they have to empty and disinfect the locker rooms and dugouts after every game? Probably. What if one player becomes sick, does the entire league shutdown like the NBA and we’re back at zero?
What about minor leaguers? Will they play their seasons across the country and travel? What if a player needs to be called up and they’re coming outside of the isolation zone in Arizona? If there are minor league games, you need testing for every single game as well, which is thousands of more tests considering there are about seven minor league teams (Rookie ball through Triple-A) per big league team. Do you eliminate Rookie League and have players start in Low-A?
Clearly, a lot of questions need to be answered and there are no perfect answers, but it’s a positive step forward that the league and government are discussing when baseball can come back, even if things still aren’t normal.