With the Mets having started their new edition of spring training, branded “summer camp” across all thirty locations by the league, we have begun writing about baseball again here at Amazin’ Avenue. It feels a bit strange, to say the least.
Although things are vastly improved in New York and the northeast in general when it comes to the COVID pandemic, the situation clearly isn’t under control in many parts of the country. A lot of major league teams play in states that are seeing things get worse, not better, at the moment. And while the players on the field might seem to be the least likely to suffer serious illness at the hands of this virus, there’s simply no guarantee that will be the case for any one of them.
It’s possible that players have underlying health conditions that haven’t prevented them from playing previously, about which the public knows nothing. Even if we assume the protocols put in place by Major League Baseball are top notch, players themselves are at risk, as are their families and all of the other people who are involved in the work that goes into practicing and playing out a season, even one that has no fans in the stands.
The best public health argument for having sports at all seems to be that sports on television only would give people something to do at home, ideally encouraging social distancing. One of the best things about baseball in normal times is that its everyday nature makes it part of its fans’ daily routines. You can watch some, most, or all of the 162 games your team plays, keeping tabs on what’s going on all along and being invested in the team regardless of exactly how you choose to follow.
In terms of writing about all of this, we acknowledge that everything we’re writing on the site about the 60-game 2020 season is happening within the context of this pandemic. Everyone involved in playing these games—assuming the league gets to that point—is a person, and when we see things like today’s news that Freddie Freeman tested positive for COVID, has a fever, and is not feeling well, we’ll aim to approach that kind of update on both the human side and the baseball side. We hope Freeman recovers quickly and fully and that the people in his life don’t get sick, either.
The news about Freeman highlights the balancing act here in a different light, too. If there are games being played for us to watch, we’d consider ourselves lucky to be able to watch. Even if baseball pulls this off impeccably, though, it will be a lot more fun to watch when players’ health isn’t constantly at risk—and the outcome of the season could be determined by days lost to COVID.