While there remains plenty to accomplish with respecting to slowing the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), Major League Baseball and other sports are well into at least preliminary discussions over how to begin or resume play.
For MLB, two scenarios became public over the past week, with both involving Arizona. One option, unofficially considered an Arizona plan, called for all 30 teams to descend upon The Grand Canyon state, where they would play at Chase Field and upwards of 10 Spring Training ballparks.
Public health officials reportedly have given an early stamp of approval for it. The other proposal that became public called for the elimination of American and National Leagues, and division realignment in the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues.
Some players have already voiced a willingness to quarantine in Arizona, while others, such as longtime Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, have raised concerns.
During an interview with John Hartung on SportsNet LA, Walker Buehler neither gave his approval or eliminated either of the plans, and instead touched on a need to keep an open mind while seeking the best option:
“I think a lot of them are interesting, to say the least. Obviously, this being only my third year, I’m still trying to figure out playing 162 games. I think it’s unprecedented times and stuff we’re not used to. There’s going to be some creative things thrown around and some weird things thrown out there. We’ve got to weed through them and find the ones that make sense.”
After the Arizona plan became public, there was plenty of discussion and excitement over the prospect of possibly beginning the season in May. It prompted MLB to push back against the notion a course of action had been decided upon or was a frontrunner.
“MLB has been actively considering numerous contingency plans that would allow play to commence once the public health situation has improved to the point that it is safe to do so,” a released statement explained.
“While we have discussed the idea of staging games at one location as one potential option, we have not settled on that option or developed a detailed plan. While we continue to interact regularly with governmental and public health officials, we have not sought or received approval of any plan from federal, state and local officials, or the Players Association.
“The health and safety of our employees, players, fans and the public at large are paramount, and we are not ready at this time to endorse any particular format for staging games in light of the rapidly changing public health situation caused by the coronavirus.”
Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten also cautioned becoming enamored with the reports. Kasten stressed preliminary discussions have involved “many, many different scenarios.”
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