A tantalizing tweet from Trevor Plouffe purports to get MLB and Atlanta Braves baseball back as the Summer begins. But is that accurate?
Can we get some baseball this Summer? If so, then when? That's the questions we Atlanta Braves fans have been seeking answers to, and there may be light at the end of this tunnel.
All of what follows has to come with a couple of caveats:
- nothing has been confirmed by any official source
- Plouffe used this to tease his podcast
Then again, as a former player, he would also be free to leak dates without fear of MLB's wrath.
There's a rumor of at least one denial from a professional baseball writer - Keith Law. However, you have to wonder if Keith Law is still writing (for theAthletic) since we can't actually keep track of anything he says.
He's blocked anyone on twitter who has criticized him, or in many cases even been associated via a retweet or @mention to someone who has. As a result... his words are only rumors to us.
Still: as a former player (Indians, Twins, A's, Rays, Phillies), Trevor Plouffe is very recently connected to a lot of current players and certainly would be in the best position to know what he's claiming.
This news also jives with the 're-opening' of most individual states in the US, including California. As of this CNN report, almost every state has orders in place that are in the process of being lifted by May 31 if not sooner.
New York and the entire metropolitan New York City region has been a particularly nasty "hot spot" for the COVID-19 virus and might be the most problematic, but perhaps MLB is betting that by July 1st, even their situation will be under control.
Under Control - the Atlanta Braves watchword?
The fear associated with the creation of all these 'stay at home' orders has been that COVID-19, being among the more contagious viruses known, would overwhelm the capability of our medical infrastructure to handle patients. That has not happened.
As a result, while allowing some extra time in deference to the fact that this insidious virus tends to avoid showing up for days after transmission, it does appear that the shutdown of the country bought enough time and space to avoid the worst of the original predictions.
If this June 10 date is correct, MLB is actually being a bit more conservative by banking that much of the nation's economy may have been doing its own restart for a couple of weeks by then.
By doing this and having 3 weeks of "Spring Training 2.0" in relative isolation, there will be a chance for the Atlanta Braves and their rivals to work out their own new normals before declaring a real season start on July 1.
A better plan. The concerns about playing in a "hub city" plan involved some odd issues like having teams isolate themselves in a hotel along with staff and support personnel.
If teams play in their own parks, then players would at least be home in their own normal environments for half the time, which should be safe. Even on the road, teams tend to use similar hotels as one another, so these environments could have a modest semblance of control to them.
As for travel: all teams charter their aircraft and the airline crews are assigned to them, so there's little to be concerned with there.
In other words: the dates make sense; the plan makes sense.
So many unanswered questions
That doesn't mean this will be easy. There are still lingering questions:
- What if a player catches the virus? Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale could be the experimental lab rat for this question. In retrospect, he thinks he might have had COVID-19 when fighting a bout of 'nasty pneumonia' that caused him to miss early starts.
- How many games? There are 124 days between July 1 and November 1 - enough for roughly 115-120 games, depending on double-headers and days off. That approaches 3/4ths of the original schedule.
- Can fans attend? Probably not for a while, and later on, there might only be a 'socially-separated' contingent allowed (though that's a full stadium for the Marlins and Rays). By the time the playoffs begin, we could be up near full capacity.
- I foresee a lot of 'team mask giveaway' promotions coming this fall; perhaps a creative masked bobblehead or two.
This is our first glimmer of hope to see some Atlanta Braves baseball in a while. Hopefully Plouffe isn't simply blowing smoke here, but for everywhere other than New York city, the stars appear to be aligning well toward these dates.