The whole world has been flipped upside down in recent weeks due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. With most people not able to regularly leave their homes as a means of practicing social distancing to avoid the spread of the virus, the 2020 Major League Baseball season is currently on hold.
MLB restrictions began early in Spring Training when teams began limiting media access in clubhouses and encouraged players not to sign autographs for fans for the time being. The Los Angeles Dodgers — and other teams — instead gave players cards to sign in the clubhouse and then distribute.
While it seemed like a drastic measure at the time, it obviously wasn’t even close to what was to come with seemingly the entire country not shut down.
In an interview with Joe Davis and Orel Hershiser, Dodgers president and CEO oStan Kasten noted the change in autographs required a break from his typical message and encouragement to players:
“I remember talking to the team about it, and all of us were a little skeptical. Are we overreacting? Are we over preparing? And some of the players were skeptical, too. I spent my whole career talking to players about the importance of autographs, talking about the importance of reaching out to fans.
“And now for the first time in my career I was having to tell them, ‘No, no. We can’t do autographs. That’s what the CDC and WHO is telling us.’ We can’t be exchanging things between people we don’t know, we have to keep our distance. So we were all a little skeptical as recently as three weeks ago. Now, how much has the world changed? But we all know the importance of social distancing.”
Dodgers players are typically very active in the community, whether it be doing work with the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, or Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner on an individual basis through Kershaw’s Challenge, Kenley Jansen Foundation, and Justin Turner Foundation, respectively.
So while this obviously was a big change, fans now understand why it had to be done as they continue learning about how coronavirus is spread through contact from person to person.
While there is no telling when the virus will get under control and the 2020 MLB season will be able to begin, Kasten is optimistic that they still will be able to play a ‘substantial’ season. That’s certainly good news for the Dodgers and their fans as they again have a very strong team and are the favorites to come out of the National League and make it back to the World Series.
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