Governors of New York, California, and Texas all announced yesterday that professional sports can resume in those states without fans in the near future. So they join Florida and Arizona who have recently opened their states for pro sports.
This is significant because 27 percent of all NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL teams reside in those states, including major revenue-generating franchises such as the Yankees, Dallas Cowboys, LA Lakers, New York Rangers and LA Dodgers. These states are also the most populated in the country.
This is good news for sports fans, but as senior MLB Insider Jeff Passan noted: “This doesn’t hurt MLB’s efforts to reopen, but we also have to realize that this is a multifaceted process and as much as Governors want to think that they’ve got the power to bring sports back in their state, it has to get past a couple of different levels before we get those teams back. Remember you’ve got local officials as well, who could stymie those efforts. Even more, it’s the local health officials who are going to be the one to rubber-stamp these sports coming back by looking at the plans and protocols these leagues have in place.”
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) May 16, 2020
If and when MLB does reopen, the players will be returning to a game with no fans and a totally different set of rules involving player interaction, which will dramatically alter the culture of the game.
For a sport like MLB, which is already considered “less exciting” than the other sports and depends on quirky celebrations and dugout shenanigans as a selling point, rules limiting these things could hurt ratings.
MLB released a new Health & Safety proposal, a lengthy memo of about 67 pages, outlining safety guidelines for players and fans. The proposal includes thorough testing and social distancing.
That’s not too bad.
But things that are a natural part of the game; spitting, high-fives, first bumps, hugs, tobacco use, and chewing sunflower seeds would be prohibited.
Eliminating those elements of the game seems almost impossible to me.
Other restrictions that players might object to include having Gatorade jugs on the bench and not being allowed to stand next to each other during the National Anthem. There’s been some suggestion that players won’t even be allowed to take showers post-game.
This doesn’t sound like baseball at all, but then again, this is just a draft to test the temperature of MLBPA and teams. At the end of the day, it all comes to the money and that still has to be worked out over the next couple of weeks. The risk has to be worth the reward, sort of speak.
MLB is either going to be starting Spring Training in June or going back to the drawing board.
During a visit to the White House yesterday, Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta says he believes the NBA will finish the season. He was on hand for a round table with restaurant owner executives. The League has about two weeks, according to reports, until they have to start making some hard plans for reopening.
“Is he still working for you?” Trump asks. “He must be pretty good.”
— Justin Sink (@justinsink) May 18, 2020
In addition, the New Orleans Pelicans and LA Clippers have joined the 17 of 30 NBA teams that have reopened facilities for voluntary individual workouts.
Has narrowed down their list to 8 or 9 sites they should resume this summer.
#BREAKING– This is great news from NY Governor Andrew Cuomo. He is currently encouraging pro sports team to “plan to reopen without fans.” It looks very likely that this NHL season will be completed without fans (if it is completed at all). Either way, this is very good news!
— EverydayIsles (@EverydayIsles) May 18, 2020
NFL Commissioner Gary Bettman’s hope is that each site can accommodate “a dozen or so teams”
The NHL abruptly halted its season on March 12 with 189 regular-season games remaining.
Keep your fingers crossed sports fans.