We should be in the third week of games in Major League Baseball. Fans have been left without any sports in their lives. And while the national peak of COVID-19 cases is in the immediate future, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association are discussing innovative ways to play games. One of those ways might be to make every team play in empty ballparks in Arizona.
According to the Associated Press, that could be the technique to re-start baseball:
Putting all 30 teams in the Phoenix area this season and playing in empty ballparks was among the ideas discussed Monday by Major League Baseball and the players’ association.
The sides held a telephone call to talk about paths forward for a season delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, people familiar with the discussion told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity because no details were announced.The advantage for doing so would be location and containment.
The rationale is that through widespread testing and limited access, baseball could get games underway once the biggest threat of the virus passes. And since there would be no fans for a while, Arizona would be an ideal place to do so. The reason is the large number of Arizona Spring Training cites and Chase Field in Phoenix.
One idea in the article was playing daily triple-headers at Chase Field. Serving as a neutral site as all, games could be played at 12:00, 4:00, and 8:00 Eastern time at Chase Field. Meanwhile, the Spring Training sites could host doubleheaders so that four teams could play in one day and in one place.
Phillies fans who have visited Spring Training in Florida are used to a very different experience than is the case is Arizona. Instead of Grapefruit Leagues representing various Florida towns, teams play in the greater Phoenix area. While the Phillies have to travel some times to Fort Myers from Clearwater, a four-hour drive, the 15 Arizona teams play over 10 sites all within the same metropolitan area.
Fans would not be able to see the games in person, but presumably television broadcasts would be available to fans, many of whom might still be social distancing. While that might not be the ideal situation, at least there would be baseball.
This situation would not be ideal for players, either, thus the discussion with the MLBPA. Should the players association decide that getting their paychecks going is worth the inconvenience, baseball could return sooner.