By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub
Baseball without spitting? It doesn’t seem possible. And that’s just the beginning.
At the end of the day, of course, we all wants sports back on the field, even baseball, as deliberate as it may be. And we want them back assuming the health and safety of all participants, even the tactless Blake Snell, because we’re all human beings first. And yet, if it takes 67 pages of rules on top of a baseball rulebook that was already 162 pages to begin with, well, maybe we must start wondering whether it’s worth it.
To wit: among the protocols proposed by MLB to the union last week, a ball must be taken out of play if it’s touch by multiple position players on the same sequence, whether it’s a single to the opposite field, a relay following a double in the gap, a 5-4-3 double play. A rundown? Good heavens. That’s a bona fide threat for another pandemic. And heaven forbid if the catcher tries a pickoff only to overthrow the first baseman, forcing the right fielder to fire the ball to third base only to hit the runner in the back.
Here’s what I’m getting at: in the midst of a global pandemic, certain rules make all the sense in the world. Others don’t. Outside the foul lines and between innings? The more the better. Constant testing. No dining out. Hand sanitizer every half inning. Social distancing. Masks for coaches and managers, particularly if they are older. We should even accept no spitting in the dugout, where the last thing anyone needs is residual human mist while someone splatters the floor with a combination of saliva, mucus and sugar (from the game) and salt (from the seeds).
But if were going to go through all these measures … isn’t the point so that players can play the game on the field without significant limitation?
Look, I’m not saying that teammates can share bubble gum that’s already been chewed. But can we play the game or not?
Admittedly, there is probably politicking going on here. In their efforts to appease health officials, maybe Major League Baseball is merely trying to demonstrate it has thoroughly covered all scenarios. Maybe MLB officials they are merely protecting their backsides to prove to players that their intentions are pure (which doesn’t mean they are). But when all is said and done, maybe there is a simple conclusion to be drawn from an initial list of rules and regulations – again, on the field – that might be required to get back on the field and that seem downright excessive.
If this is the kind of insanity, it’s going to take to get baseball – and other sports – to return, well, the rest is obvious.
Maybe we shouldn’t be playing at all.