There has been talk about when and if the MLB will return from the COVID hiatus. Some of these topics include where games will be played, whether or not players with families will be on board, the length of the season, and more. One thing is for sure when baseball does return, the next couple seasons, at least, will look a little different than the average baseball game that we’ve grown up watching. Since sports took a pause roughly two months ago, the MLB has been very active in doing everything they can to get their players back on the field in the safest way possible. However, when that does happen, things are going to look a lot different.
While the MLB and the Players Association continue to go back and forth regarding the upcoming season, which by the way could not be going any worse…we as fans must accept that whether the players get back on the field or not, the game is going to look different than it ever has.
A New Proposal?
The MLB’s most recent proposal that was put together by the league and owners was somehow “leaked” to the media, and players are pissed. Many of them believe this was the MLB’s way of getting the public and the media to shame the players rather than the league. There are so many different boxes that must be checked in order for this to work. Players have families too, players can also get sick, and players also need to make money to put food on the table for their families. The most recent MLB proposal that was leaked to the media suggested that MLB teams would have the options to either play their games at home or at their spring training facilities in Arizona or Texas, but I haven’t even gotten to the crazy part.
- No high-fives, butt-slaps, fist bumping. Essentially, don’t f***** touch anyone.
- I didn’t even know this wasn’t a rule before but apparently players will no longer be allowed to charge the mound or fight. So much for beanball in Houston. Exhibit A: If you can’t high five, you probably shouldn’t do this either.
- All substitutions and pitching changes will be made from the dugout, as the league will also prohibit mound visits in order to increase social distancing.
- Not sure how they’re going to monitor this one, but there will be no chewing tobacco, communal sunflower seeds/gum, and no spitting allowed. Essentially, players that need to pack a lip between every inning are going to have a hard time with this one.
- Teams will be banned from eating at restaurants on road trips.
- No more mascots. I don’t really understand this one. I would say a full 40-pound body suit that also covers your face and body is even more effective than a mask, but whatever. Catch ya on the flip side, Billy the Marlin.
- Players will be discouraged from touching their face to give signs and are prohibited from licking their fingers. Again, another rule I cannot wait for someone to break and get disciplined for.
- The bullpen phone will be disinfected after each use, which means the Orioles should probably bring like 17 bottles of Lysol to each game.
- The locker room will be essentially useless. Pools, saunas, steam rooms will all be closed and players will be encouraged to take batting practice outside. The locker rooms especially won’t be used for this:
- Managers and coaches must wear masks in the dugouts.
- Players are also being encouraged to shower and change at their homes. The MLB wants these players confined in their locker rooms for as little time as possible, which means most players will be taking their postgame showers at home or in their hotel rooms. Lockers, by the way, will also be separated by six feet.
- Players and staff will be tested on a daily basis in the morning. If any employee from a team tests positive, they will be required to quarantine and test negative two times before being allowed back with the team. Temperature checks will be given regularly as well.
13. No more lineup exchanges with the managers and umpires. If you care about this, I’m sorry.
14. Fielders are encouraged to keep their distance from runners on base, which will certainly make the pickoff situation a little interesting and Jon Lester’s life a lot easier.
15. Players must social distance during the National Anthem when they line up.
16. The MLB will discourage players from tossing the ball around the infield and outfield. The normal “mud” rubdown of these balls, which is done by the umpires, now must be done wearing gloves.
17. Some staff members, coaches, and even players will be required to sit in the stands behind the dugout in order to increase the amount of open space in the small dugouts.
18. If a player gets hurt, the only person that is allowed to attend to the player are the people designated as medical personnel, unlike the way we used to see pitching coaches, players, and managers come out of the dugout to check
19. When Spring Training resumes and pitchers and catchers arrive, only five players will be permitted to work out in the facility at that time.
20. There will be no fans in attendance. Zero. This doesn’t change much for a team like the A’s, but teams that thrive off of their passionate fan bases will definitely feel the difference when they take the field on opening day and the only noise is the scoreboard guy playing “Take Me Out to The Ballgame.”
At the end of the day…
Some of these rules are wild and I anticipate the MLB will have trouble monitoring a handful of them, especially the face touching and dipping. That being said, at the end of the day…I wouldn’t refer to these as “rules.” These are precautions that the MLB wants their players to take to ensure the safety of all MLB players, coaches, and staffers. Despite the daily plans, proposals, and hopes for a season, the MLB and MLBPA are far from an agreement. The MLB recently leaked information about their ‘return to baseball’ plan, and many players are under the impression that this information was leaked so that the players are the people who look responsible if the season doesn’t start. We will see baseball again one day and when we do…it’s going to look a lot different than it did just months ago.