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Volume 26 No. 176
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D-Backs President Open To Reported Plan For MLB Games In Arizona

Arizona is home to 10 Spring Training ballparks, including the Peoria Sports Complex
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Arizona is home to 10 Spring Training ballparks, including the Peoria Sports Complex
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Arizona is home to 10 Spring Training ballparks, including the Peoria Sports Complex
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

MLB is reportedly considering a scenario in which all 30 teams play out an abbreviated regular season without fans in Arizona, and D-backs President & CEO Derrick Hall said "we are willing to do this and there's a way to make it work," according to Nick Piecoro of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. Sources said that it is "one of many ideas being considered" by the league. Hall said, "This is going to be a place where hopefully, if we do things right, where we keep that curve flat, where it doesn't become too much of a problem, where the summer is going to heat up a little bit. There's ways to utilize Chase Field. And, of course, we're more than willing to do so." Piecoro writes "much would need to happen for the idea to become a reality, starting of course with a steep reduction in new coronavirus cases." The plan also would "call for constant testing of players and staff, which could mean diverting resources from public health care." Hall "vacillated between calling the idea 'realistic' and 'far-fetched'"(ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 4/7). MLB in a statement today said it has been considering "numerous contingency plans" for resuming the season, and while it has "discussed the idea of staging games at one location as one potential option, we have not settled on that option" (MLB).

FIGURING OUT LOGISTICS: ESPN.com's Jeff Passan cites sources as saying that the Arizona plan could allow MLB to "start the season as early as May." Sources said that players, coaching staffs and other essential personnel "would be sequestered at local hotels, where they would live in relative isolation and travel only to and from" the ballpark. But sources also said that the May return date "depends on a number of concerns being allayed, and some officials believe a June opening day could be more realistic." Sources said that the logistics to pull off such a plan "would be enormous and cumbersome on the league side and require the buy-in of players," who are expected to be "skeptical of separating from their families for an indefinite amount of time -- perhaps as long as 4½ months." But Passan notes there still is "hope among leadership on both sides" (ESPN.com, 4/7).

BIG OPPORTUNITY FOR MLB? THE ATHLETIC's Ken Rosenthal wrote in the nation's current state, the quarantine plan "might be baseball's best chance for returning as quickly as possible." But that plan "might not be viable at all" (THEATHLETIC.com, 4/3). YAHOO SPORTS' Mike Oz wrote MLB's plan "would come with dozens of questions," but it "would accomplish two very basic things: Players could play and baseball fans would have something to watch." It "wouldn't be 'normal' but it would be close enough." There is "another potential win here, and it could be huge for baseball: For a sport that's been slowly losing its grip on a once-loyal audience, a captive and hungry group of sports fans could be what baseball needs to become America's Pastime again." It is a "moment baseball needs, quite honestly." The game is "economically healthy, but its place in sports culture isn't nearly as healthy" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/6).

TOUGH SELL: In N.Y., Bill Madden noted there is a similar “Wasserman Plan” being floated by Casey Wasserman and the union, in which they would "play the season in four Arizona spring training complexes with no fans in attendance." But it is "never going to fly with the owners," unless the players are "willing to play for the minimum wage, which they are not." The owners "do not appear to have any appetite for a season" with empty ballparks (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/5).

NICE THOUGHT: In N.Y., Joel Sherman notes MLB officials "did bat around the idea of staging a Home Run Derby as a way to derive some revenue during the coronavirus pandemic while providing baseball entertainment to help keep the sport vibrant in fans' minds." But the "logistic problems just appear too great." Ballparks "would have to be opened" and it is unclear "how many municipalities are ready to do that." But the facilities are "just part of the problem." For now, it is "all a little too much to pull off for MLB" (N.Y. POST, 4/7).