The Rundown: Health and Money Will Determine MLB Reboot, Heyward Believes in Ross, Florida Gov. Says Fans Welcome to Attend MLB Games

Thursday is the toughest day of the week on a work-from-home schedule during a pandemic because Friday offers nothing to really look forward to. After 52 days of isolation, and between my day gig and writing this column, my home is basically an office that I never get to leave.

And I’m not sure if you’ve noticed it, but sports stories, usually a respite from the drudgery of “safer at home” orders, have incredibly short shelf lives during this worldwide blackout. I imagine that’s because every new idea has an immediate rebuttal, and, like a game of tic-tac-toe, nobody ever wins. I keep trying to get excited for a reboot of the 2020 MLB season, but I keep running into a few blockers:

  1. How the players will be compensated for games played in empty stadiums;
  2. Contradictory statements from politicians and health experts; and
  3. Radio silence from the people who will ultimately decide where and when (and if) games will be played.

The long-tail effect is that it’s not just my weekends I no longer look forward to, but also the next six months or more. There’s a reality that is often overlooked when trying to determine a return to some semblance of normalcy, and that’s that the novel coronavirus is probably never going to be fully eradicated. I suppose I could accept plans as more or less concrete if that fact was taken into consideration. A vaccine and widespread antibody testing will help considerably, and the development and approval of any type of medication that helps relieve symptoms while reducing morbidities would be a strong indicator of when sports can begin to return to their pre-pandemic state.

Mass gatherings may not be a part of our future for a long time, maybe not until well into 2021. Professional sports rely on revenues to exist, and that cash flow primarily comes from ticket sales, peripherals related to game attendance, television contracts, licensing, and ad sales. It’s fun to think about the return of baseball, even if the games are played with no fans in attendance. But is that financially realistic given the costs to field each team?

Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney has been spot on regarding any plans to resuscitate the 2020 season.

“Our first job becomes forget the business [and] make sure people know what they need to do to protect themselves,” Kenney said last week during an episode of Cubs 162 on Marquee Sports Network.

“Then you come back. OK, what does an operation that relies on mass gatherings look like when you can’t have mass gatherings? We are obviously a baseball team. We are a sports network. We are in the hotel and hospitality business. We are a restaurant business. And we’re a public events business. And every one of them has been decimated by this.”

A lot of Cubs fans dislike Kenney, but I’ve always found him to be forthright and passionate about the Cubs and Marquee. He gets a lot of flak because the new flagship still has no deal with Comcast, but he can’t be fully blamed for that. I suppose the “wheelbarrows full of cash” statement wasn’t one of his finer moments either, given the team’s current financial state.

The truth is that no matter how many roadblocks exist to get the league and the MLBPA past the negotiating table and onto the field, none of it really matters if COVID-19 continues to be a pesky thorn in the side of humanity. And that’s why we shouldn’t dismiss Kenney’s statements. At the end of the day, health, safety, and money are all that matter, and those factors will first and foremost dictate the terms surrounding any restart of this baseball season.

Cubs News & Notes

MLB News & Notes

Florida governor Ron Desantis said that baseball games played in Florida starting in June or July could be attended by fans.

Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina said that he is ready and willing to enter free agency after this season if St. Louis refuses to extend his contract.

The proposed three-division realignment could be more than just a pandemic workaround.

The Baseball Hall of Fame has postponed this year’s induction ceremony until 2021. The league also announced that its first year player draft will be conducted virtually on June 10.

Retired White Sox announcer Hawk Harrelson believes baseball made the right decision in postponing its Hall of Fame ceremony.

Buck Showalter said that players will need the ’emotional flicker’ that playing in front of fans provides.

CC Sabathia said that Angels two-way threat Shohei Ohtani is the best player he’s ever seen.

Find Your Inner Hero

It’s pretty cool to see the way businesses are contributing during the pandemic. Here are a few examples.

Odds & Sods

This can’t be a good look.

Apropos of Nothing

A few friends of mine have been unsuccessful in their attempts to file for unemployment due to long wait times or website slowness, and some have still yet to receive a check through the CARES ACT, something that troubles me a great deal. Further igniting my anguish is reports of what some people are actually doing with their stimulus checks.

On Deck

If you are working from home and are required to attend Zoom meetings, you might want to make sure you are fully aware of the environment in which you are being viewed.

Extra Innings

In my opinion, Aramis Ramírez is one of the more underappreciated players in team history.

They Said It

  • “The virus will tell us when the season starts. It won’t be the commissioner [Rob Manfred]. It won’t be the players association. And it certainly won’t be me. The virus is going to tell us when we can play.” – Crane Kenney
  • “I’m optimistic, as is the commissioner, that we’ll have baseball in 2020. I’m upbeat about that. I think the most important thing is to do it in the right way and in the safest manner that we can. But I believe that we will have baseball.” – Nationals GM Mike Rizzo

Thursday Walk Up Song

Mr. Blue Sky by ELO – I don’t know how the weather is where you live, but here in Milwaukee it has been raining very heavily for about 44 straight hours. The Milwaukee River is about to crest, so some blue skies and sun would be nice.

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