Chicago Cubs: Rays’ first workout is a light at the end of the tunnel
Amid a global pandemic and salary disputes in the MLB, the Tampa Bay Rays had their first official workout at Tropicana Field. This moment gives hope for the Chicago Cubs’ upcoming season.
Things have certainly looked grim for the Chicago Cubs and the MLB lately, given the regular salary and safety disputes between players and owners. While the owners are making ridiculous requests that leave the MLBPA with no option but to fight it, there is at least a glimmer of hope that we will still see baseball in 2020.
That small light at the end of the tunnel came from Florida, where the Tampa Bay Rays held their first team workout at Tropicana Field since the Coronavirus began. It was far from a full-fledged team workout due to social distancing guidelines, but what matters is that it happened. We finally got to see a small few MLB players and coaches go back to work despite the troubles of the world and the MLB.
It’s somewhat comforting to see players getting back into the swing of things, even if there are far more uncertainties regarding when baseball can come back. Each individual state has to operate at their own pace, something more difficult for a state like Illinois, which currently has the third most Coronavirus cases of the entire United States. California, for example, looks to open back up for specific low-risk work environments (including MLB teams) as part of their stage 2 reopening protocol. At the same time, Chicago specifically will enter stage 3 of Governor Pritzker’s reopening plan in June.
The Cubs will have to wait a bit longer than the Rays then to get back to Wrigley, but seeing at least some activity from an MLB team is a glimpse into the future of how the league will operate. Tampa demonstrated that this is all possible, and more teams are likely to follow suit soon. The Houston Astros opened up Minute Maid Park in preparation for workouts, and the Los Angeles Angels did the same with their spring training facility.
Rays manager Kevin Cash noted how bizarre the situation was, but the general mood of the team’s meeting was happiness and hope. Players and coaches were smiling and enjoying what little bit of baseball they had until the season returns. These players want to play and enjoy the game of baseball, something that can be lost when talking about fighting owners for millions of dollars.
Nothing is entirely certain yet for the Chicago Cubs (or for any team for that matter) and they still don’t know when a return to Wrigley Field is possible (though they are considering holding the second spring training there).
Still, seeing players return to their home ballparks and enjoying whatever bit of baseball they can give me hope that the MLB will work things out and that it’ll be “play ball” come mid-June. I know it’s far more complex than that, but we can all dream.