Baltimore Orioles Home Opener April 4, 2019. (Mike Jordan)
All of the Oriole players have decided to play this year because their careers are on the line. In fact, their lives are on the line with the threat of the Coronavirus hanging over the season. Major League Baseball is making a terrible mistake trying to force an abbreviated 60 game season.
As the virus has begun to spike in new and different areas around the country, it does not seem like the best time to start playing baseball. Recently scientists discovered that the virus is only spread by 20% of the infected, the so-called superspreaders who may or may not show symptoms. One super spreader can infect an entire company, family, league, or team. As much as we all need a distraction, playing this year makes no sense.
We know there will be no fans but with teams traveling, an outbreak is likely. What happens then? Do you cancel the season? What if players start quitting after an outbreak? A number of veteran major league players have refused to play this year. They concluded the risk is not worth the reward(about 1/3 of their salary). Veterans can say no.
Many Oriole players are young and making the minimum. They don’t have the luxury of saying no. Many young players were paid their prorated salary during spring training and will earn no additional money this year. They must play to earn the money they already received.
Just what do we get for putting players(and their families) at great personal risk? We get a 60 game season with nearly all the games against our division rivals. The two largest market (New York and LA) teams have the easiest schedule. The struggling O’s have one of the toughest schedules. Does the O’s playing Boston, New York, Tampa, and Toronto 10 times each sound like fun?
Every person and every family member connected to Major League Baseball will be at increased risk for contracting the virus. For what? TV money and a dreadful 60 game season that favors large market teams.
It’s not worth it. Cancel the season and start over next year.
Dudley Thompson lives in Girdletree, MD., population 106. He was born, raised, and lived most of his life in Baltimore. He worked for the News-American on the advertising side until it closed in ‘86. His second career was teaching in juvenile jails for the Maryland State Department of Education. He holds a Masters in Liberal Arts from Johns Hopkins University, ‘77, and a B.A from the University of Maryland,’74.