Yesterday morning we wrote about what’s happening around the world with regards to sports, the coronavirus, and the possibility of the Reds and Major League Baseball possibly playing games in empty stadiums.
A lot has happened in the 24 hours since then. Both the KBO in Korea and the NPB in Japan – the top two baseball leagues in the world outside of Major League Baseball – have postponed the start of their regular seasons. The San Jose Sharks of the NHL will have to play at least three home games in an empty arena after the county they play in has banned gatherings of 1000 or more people.
And then after a conference call with the 30 owners, Major League Baseball – along with the NHL, NBA, and MLS all announced that they would be closing off locker room access to media for the time being. The post game will now include a press conference like situation, as well as a roped off area to interview a player. What isn’t clear is who gets to decide who shows up to these from the team.
Major League Baseball has said that this is a temporary measure and things will go back to normal once the medical staff concludes it’s safe to have everyone in the locker room again. There’s a whole lot of reasons that this reasoning doesn’t add up, including the fact that the players will still be interacting with plenty of staff, medical people, team staff, clubbies, security, and so on. We’ll also gloss right on by the fact that while this is being done to “protect” the players, the owners and MLB the entity have said the plan is to move forward for now (though they did note it could change with more information) with fans in the stands, which means that they don’t really care about protecting them from the virus and it’s spread.
Jeff Passan had this tweet last night after MLB announced their plan of keeping media out of the locker rooms.
MLB plans to monitor local markets and remain nimble if local health authorities recommend games not be played. One option, sources said, is for teams to play games at different locations outside of their metropolitan areas.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 9, 2020
This is where things start to get interesting. What does it mean, exactly? Obviously it means that they could potentially move games elsewhere. It feels like this is in response to something like what happened to the San Jose Sharks, where their county is barring gatherings of more than 1000 people, and thus they could be forced to either postpone their games, or play them in an empty arena (empty meaning no fans – essential staff/tv crews/media would likely still be there).
In the Reds specific scenario, if Hamilton County were to do something similar – for example – perhaps an option would be to play those games on the road instead. Where, exactly, isn’t clear. Would they simply try to swap home/road series with the team they would have been facing? Would they explore playing games in available Triple-A stadiums that can seat 10,000 people? Not much of that is clear right now. And maybe it doesn’t get to that point. But it’s been discussed by the league and the owners and they apparently have some sort of working plan if needed.
Hey, at least we’re not all focused on this Houston Astros story anymore, right?