The Red Sox would have been 16 games into their season and in the middle of a West Coast trip at this point. Now we all wonder when baseball will be back.
Major League Baseball floated a trial balloon this past week, suggesting that all 30 teams could begin the season in Arizona as soon as next month. The idea would be to have players and staff essentially quarantined and play games at Chase Field, the spring training facilities in the Phoenix area, and three college ballparks.
Games would be played without fans but would be televised.
It seems impossible that several thousand people could be safely quarantined at ballparks and hotels over several months, and the plan received widespread criticism.
The latest version is to play games at spring training facilities and domed ballparks in Florida and Arizona and have the World Series between the champion of the Grapefruit League and Cactus League. Teams would have expanded rosters and all games would use a designated hitter.
That idea seems at least a little more realistic. If rosters were expanded, teams could get through playing in hot weather.
Any idea is a good one if it leads to a safe way to start the season. As much as we all want to watch baseball again, the game can’t get in the way of medical care getting to people who need it.
When baseball started up again after the Sept. 11 attacks, it was almost an act of defiance. Security was tightened and the nation showed it would not be intimidated by terrorists.
But extra police and bag checks won’t keep a virus from getting into a ballpark or clubhouse. It would be inexcusable if even one person died because baseball started up too early.
Red Sox lefthander Chris Sale, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, believes baseball can play a role in the country getting back to some semblance of normalcy.
“I think people have an outlet with sports and that’s a way for them to escape reality sometimes and decompress,” he said. “I would love to be able to give that back to them.
“Obviously, I’m not going to be playing. But I think, in a way, some people kind of enjoy getting away from things going on in the world through watching sports. Not just baseball, but everything.
“If there’s a right way to do this, then we definitely need to figure that out. The sooner we get back out there, across all major sports, the better off we’re going to be.”
You may recall that Sale missed some time in spring training for what was termed mild pneumonia by the team. He said at the time that the illness tired him out, but he was able to recover after about 10 days.
When the coronavirus pandemic struck, you had to wonder if Sale had COVID-19. So did he.
“Honestly? Yes, no doubt,” Sale said. “I don’t know if there’s a test now. But I think they’re working on a test to see if you have antibodies for it, meaning you had it ... It’s crazy to look at my symptoms and think about the symptoms of people who have the COVID-19 virus and some of the similarities. We may never know, but I’m definitely hoping not.”
There is, in fact, such a test and the National Institute of Health will soon administer it to 10,000 volunteers to determine its accuracy.
Sale believes that if he did have the virus, it would have spread to members of his family and teammates.
“It did cross my mind,” said Sale, who tested negative for the flu.