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OC Register: Report: MLB, union discuss playing all games in Arizona

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NEW YORK (AP) — Putting all 30 teams in the Phoenix area and playing in empty ballparks was among the ideas discussed Monday by Major League Baseball and the players’ association.

The sides held a telephone call to talk about paths forward for a season delayed by the new coronavirus pandemic, people familiar with the discussion told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity because no details were announced.

Ideas are still in the early stage, and the Arizona option would have many obstacles to overcome, the people said.

Half of the MLB clubs hold spring training in Arizona, the other half in Florida.

Arizona’s advantage is 10 spring training ballparks plus the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field all within about 50 miles. Florida’s spring training ballparks are spread by as much as 220 miles.

“It allows for immediacy of a schedule, where you might be able to begin it and televise it, provide Major League Baseball to America,” said Scott Boras, baseball’s most prominent agent. “I think players are willing to do what’s necessary because I think they understand the importance of baseball for their own livelihoods and for the interest of our country and providing a necessary product that gives all the people that are isolated enjoyment.”

“It gives them a sense of a return to some normalcy,” Boras added. “You talk to a psychologist about it and they say it’s it’s really good for a culture to have to have sport and to have a focus like that, where for a few hours a day they can take their minds off the difficult reality of the virus.”

Baseball’s season had been set to start March 26 but spring training was halted on March 12. After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended restricting events of more than 50 people for eight weeks, MLB said it would not open until mid-May at the earliest.

Texas Rangers president of baseball operations Jon Daniels said MLB is examining different options and he didn’t want to speculate.

“But, obviously, we’d all love to find a way to play, provided we could do safely, and that would be the priority,” he said.

The players’ association would want to survey its members to determine whether they would support such a plan, one of the people said.

“You’re going to be largely separated from your families and you’re going to have to function in a very contained way. It’s not it’s not a normal life, this idea,” Boras said. “You’re going to have an identified group of people. You’re going to have a constantly tested group of people. And you’re going to have a very limited access of those people to the outside world so that you can assure a very uncontaminated league, if you will, to produce a product that is inspirational to our country.”

Chase Field, with artificial turf and a retractable roof, could be the site of daily tripleheaders, Boras said.

MLB and the union reached a deal March 26 to advance $170 million in salary to players for the first 60 days of the season. As part of the deal, players would get only prorated portions of their salaries if the regular season is cut from its usual 162 games and would receive no additional salary if the season is scrapped.

Both sides have agreed to attempt to play as full a season as is possible, and this plan would enable to season to start while waiting for health and government officials determine whether it is safe to resume play in regular-season ballparks, with the travel that would entail.

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Posted (edited)
20 minutes ago, Stradling said:

Games in Phoenix during summer sounds awful for the players.  

With no fans they could play very early, or very late (probably early) to avoid some heat.  Also 6 teams would be indoors at the Diamondbacks park.

9 AM start is Noon for the Eastern fans.  Everyone is at home so why not morning games.

Edited by Slegnaac

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It would be a constant 110 degrees at game time every night in the summer. This is a stupid ass idea based on money rather than any thought for the players safety and health concerns.

There are too many people involved that are not self quarantined to keep the entire process working. Just one player, coach or dugout/locker room staff person coughs and the entire team goes down and so does the opposing team. Because these guys sweat, spit and run into each other the entire game. 

I wish this commissioner would step down, he is a clusterfuck of bad ideas. 

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If the CoronaVirus is still active in May it’s going to be very difficult to have every MLB player agree to show up.
With the shortage of hospital beds and ventilators nationwide it’s going to be a tough thing to justify putting people in harms way for entertainment purposes only. 

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4 minutes ago, RendZone said:

If the CoronaVirus is still active in May it’s going to be very difficult to have every MLB player agree to show up.
With the shortage of hospital beds and ventilators nationwide it’s going to be a tough thing to justify putting people in harms way for entertainment purposes only. 

I agree and it's absolutely going to be active in May. 

I suppose if they implement a strict testing policy for all players/coaches/umpires it could work, but that's only if testing is readily available for everyone else in the country. If not, the season can wait. People's lives are far more important than a game. 

On a slightly lesser note, I'd prefer the players on the Angels not be risking themselves so we can continue the season. I'm sure many fans of other teams feel the same.

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Who the hell wants to play outdoors in Phoenix in the summer?  This shouldn’t happen, Covid or not. If you quarantine the players, coaching staffs and change the ball boys to CDC level employees that can oversee the daily disinfecting of all touch point areas in the clubhouses, restrooms, hotels the players are staying locked up in, and airplanes and busses the players travel in, then sure.  That probably isn’t happening but it isn’t impossible, assuming testing is available for everyone and you start with a zero infected roster for each team.  Sounds like a policing of players nightmare.  

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7 minutes ago, Stradling said:

Who the hell wants to play outdoors in Phoenix in the summer?  This shouldn’t happen, Covid or not. If you quarantine the players, coaching staffs and change the ball boys to CDC level employees that can oversee the daily disinfecting of all touch point areas in the clubhouses, restrooms, hotels the players are staying locked up in, and airplanes and busses the players travel in, then sure.  That probably isn’t happening but it isn’t impossible, assuming testing is available for everyone and you start with a zero infected roster for each team.  Sounds like a policing of players nightmare.  

And I'm guessing most of the players aren't going to be at 100%. Their minds aren't going to be in it as much, and what if they get hurt? 

There needs to be an incredible improvement over the next 30 days for this to be feasible, and that's very unlikely.

Just cancel the season. It sucks but life is so much more important 

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Just now, tdawg87 said:

And I'm guessing most of the players aren't going to be at 100%. Their minds aren't going to be in it as much, and what if they get hurt? 

There needs to be an incredible improvement over the next 30 days for this to be feasible, and that's very unlikely.

Just cancel the season. It sucks but life is so much more important 

Counter point:

The Boston Red Sox. 

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10 hours ago, Slegnaac said:

With no fans they could play very early, or very late (probably early) to avoid some heat.  Also 6 teams would be indoors at the Diamondbacks park.

9 AM start is Noon for the Eastern fans.  Everyone is at home so why not morning games.

I've lived in Phoenix area.   The average high temp in July is 106 degrees.    Obviously, some days are much hotter.  And it doesn't cool off as much  in the evenings like it does in SoCal.   I don't see how they could make it happen.

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12 hours ago, Stradling said:

Games in Phoenix during summer sounds awful for the players.  

Could have morning games and night games. First game start at 8am. Heard they would play 7inn games with many DH.

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2 hours ago, tdawg87 said:

I agree and it's absolutely going to be active in May. 

I suppose if they implement a strict testing policy for all players/coaches/umpires it could work, but that's only if testing is readily available for everyone else in the country. If not, the season can wait. People's lives are far more important than a game. 

On a slightly lesser note, I'd prefer the players on the Angels not be risking themselves so we can continue the season. I'm sure many fans of other teams feel the same.

The last thing we want to see is Upton and Trout sharing a ventilator. 😆

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7 inning games?  come on, now we're losing it a bit.  Starting in May in AZ for a few weeks to get a head-start isn't a horrible idea if that happened.  Without fans is a great idea too if needed to get as many games played in the season.  But this here is a horrible idea.  There comes a point when the integrity of the games, and season, comes into play.  Heck, why not just do tee ball so we can limit the players on the field to just position players and eliminate umps.   

Plus risk over reward. What happens if a 2nd wave hits too.  Then what?

Simply: If you can't play the games as it's meant to be, then don't play at all. 

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The Athletic story speculates that one unexpected beneficiary of all this: the robotic strike zone.  Home plate umps might actually become in favor of it, due to distancing requirements with the hitters and catchers.

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14 hours ago, Slegnaac said:

With no fans they could play very early, or very late (probably early) to avoid some heat. 

Playing late doesn't abate the desert heat much. I have seen it 100 degrees at midnight here. Early, yes, before the sun has a chance to heat everything up.

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As a fan I'd be absofugginlutely glued to the TV watching live MLB games if they were playing while we're observing the stay in place order.  That said I realize having all games played in one area puts additional hardships on players because it's not feasible for all of them to move their families with them.  Players are getting paid based on a tiered system but it's a fraction of what some of them normally make so the longer this drags on the bigger the hit to their wallet.  It would be interesting to see something like this put to a vote by the union but even if it passes guys who aren't in favor of it get put in an awkward situation but then again there's people right now working essential jobs who may not want to be there but they are.     

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