This past weekend, Major League Baseball returned to play and kicked off their season. We, the fans, were rightly elated to see this happen and it showed in the ratings.
We should have seen the writing on the wall.
Now that baseball's opening weekend is complete, we are snapping back to reality, and oh, there goes gravity.
We got so caught up in the moment with sports we forgot the Jupiter-sized elephant in the room. COVID-19 is a real son of a bitch. Practically half of the Marlins tested positive and they are currently stranded in Philly to mitigate spread. At the time of writing, the Yankees were scheduled to face the Phillies tonight. At the time of editing, things had changed.
At this point, news keeps dropping and adding paragraphs to this bad baby:
This was the risk the MLB knew they were taking. Like the "negotiations" with the MLBPA about the number of games to be played, it all came down to money. The MLB could have played their games within two bubbles. It would have been nothing like we've ever seen before. But it would have been baseball. Instead, the decision was made to play at home stadiums and maximize the local TV and radio earnings. An understandable risk to be sure, but that needs to be in focus; higher earning potential with higher risk was the chosen path.
This is the exact reason why the Toronto Blue Jays were not allowed to play home games in Canada, despite the NHL putting half of the league in the city. It comes down to the bubble. Nothing is guaranteed, least of all safety from this bastard of a virus. But mitigation of risk is key, and the bubble aids in that.
What Can The NFL Do Differently?
All this is to say that this may have cost the MLB their season immediately after it started. The entity that stands to gain the most is probably the NFL. Why? Because the NFL wants to do exactly what the MLB just did and play at home stadiums. What is clear is that the testing the MLB has in place is inadequate. I don't know whether a better option exists, but they have to explore it, aggressively. Contract tracing and player isolation need to be better. Maybe impossibly so. Maybe the bubbles will work. The NHL/NBA hasn't reached a point where they've attempted to play but you know they are worried now.
I'll be honest, I don't know how the NFL operates in a bubble. They probably can't. We are seeing right now what happens when the players have to travel from stadium to stadium. The NFL is doing themselves and the fans a great disservice if they squander the free lessons provided by the MLB. Take note, NFL.