As the COVID-19 epidemic maintains its stronghold over the country, whether or not we see Chicago Cubs baseball this year remains to be seen.
We’re living in unprecedented times. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve already seen spring training cut short and Opening Day delayed across Major League Baseball. Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, sits empty on the north side of the city as fans everywhere anxiously wonder whether or not there will be any baseball in 2020.
According to multiple reports, including one from The Athletic (subscription required), the league is keeping all its options open – including starting the season from spring training facilities, with no fans. The plan would be to quarantine teams and then televise the games for fans to see.
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While at first that sounded like a good plan, once I thought a bit more about it – and what it would entail – I’m not so surer it’s even remotely feasible. Quarantining the players is one thing. But then you have to consider umpires, groundscrew members, television and production crews – the list grows pretty quickly when you think about everyone needed even in an empty stadium.
As things stand, the social distancing guidelines from the federal government are in place through the end of April at a minimum. Knowing that, it seems like an awfully big risk for Major League Baseball to take to even attempt quarantining teams in one area, likely Arizona given the proximity of all the facilities in the Cactus League.
Several Chicago Cubs players have remained in Arizona, working out at the team’s facilities in Mesa. In theory, such a plan could work perhaps this summer, with the country hopefully coming out of the worst of the virus – but still taking precautions to make sure the recovery continues.
We know, in a best-case scenario, we’re going to see a shortened season, likely playing into November with neutral-site postseason locations being considered. But I know a lot of fans saw these reports and probably felt like baseball may be nearing a return. Based on all the information out there, that’s simply not the case.
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This is likely to be a lengthy road back to ‘normal’, where Cubs fans flock to the Friendly Confines on Friday afternoons to cheer on the team. That’s not to say we won’t get there. Knowing the league is keeping its options open gives me a bit more hope we’ll see baseball in 2020, but we’ve still lot a long ways to go before that transpires.