As first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Major League Baseball has decided to follow the NBA’s lead by closing locker rooms to the media as a means by which to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. It’s a small step and one that may not have tremendous impact, but it’s part of the league’s plan to continue with a full slate of spring games and keep the start of the regular season on track.
Passan reported that MLB is trying to remain nimble, asking teams to come up with contingency plans for playing games in other cities should the virus have a particularly strong impact in their home city. The league will also develop travel standards for non-player personnel and reduce or restrict travel by scouts, who must often go abroad.
The clubhouse ban is said to be temporary and will be replaced in the meantime by press conferences, but Ken Rosenthal and other reporters fear the limited access could become more feature than glitch ($). A prolonged ban would eliminate many exclusive stories and reduce the kind of candidness that comes with trust established over time through more intimate, informal conversations.
Media members will still have individual access to players, but they’ll need to maintain a distance of at least six feet during interviews. Even though that’s still 10-20 feet closer than I’m allowed to get by security, it’s not ideal for the professionals.
— Ken Davidoff (@KenDavidoff) March 10, 2020
As strange and unnecessary as this all may sound, and ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. And if limiting access is what MLB chooses to do rather than shutting down completely, which Japan’s NPB has already done, I’m all for it. Now my hope is that they find a way to get this thing under control prior to the London Series between the Cubs and Cardinals in June.
The whole idea of shutting things down hit very close to home for me yesterday, as the entire school district for which my wife works opted to close for two weeks prior to spring break. A child in one of the elementary schools tested positive for Covid-19, at which point they opted to shut the school down for two weeks and give the rest of the district an e-learning day. However, a second positive in the district led to the more comprehensive closure and what will end up being at least four weeks out of school.
So wash your hands and maybe think about limiting excessive contact, something that’s easy for bloggers because we live in our parents’ basements. And remember that the precautions aren’t in place to protect the healthy among us, but for those whose immune systems are less able to fend off illness. Maybe someone like the Rundown’s usual author, Michael Canter, who was unable to write today because his doctors wanted him to stay in the hospital overnight for observation.
I had initially planned to flesh this topic out quite a bit more, but opted to split it out as a separate post as the column inches began to grow. Suffice to say things look every bit as bad for Sinclair Broadcast Group as they have in our previous coverage of Marquee Sports Network and the RSN market in general.
That may actually end up being good for Cubs fans, since Sinclair may have to cave to Comcast and others just to secure carriage arrangements and avoid hemorrhaging any more money. It might not be as good for the Cubs, though they’ve maintained of late that Marquee revenues won’t really take off for a couple years.
Cubs News & Notes
- Boy, and off day during spring training really is weird. It seems as though everyone, beat writers included, took advantage of the breather following two weeks of really getting after it.
- Sahadev Sharma looked at the likely roster breakdown ($), including the note that “the team is leaning toward starting the year with Hoerner and Kipnis on the roster.”
- Rick Morrissey wrote a whole-ass column on how David Ross needs to name Kyle Hendricks the starter instead of Jon Lester. I mean, yeah, but has literally anyone said anything about Lester as a possibility?
- Jordan Bastian shared the story of when Ross, then with the Las Vegas 51s, got the call to join the Dodgers.
- Mike Bryant joined Marquee’s Taylor McGregor for a live interview during Saturday’s game in Vegas that is well worth your time. The self-proclaimed “stupid dad” gushed about his love for the game and, of course, his son. “He’s everything that I wish I could have been. But he’s taught me how to be a better dad.”
Spring Training Notes
You know what? I’m not really feeling this part just now. There are certainly some interesting things going on around baseball, but I’ve got a lot on my mind and would prefer to share something a little more personal rather than going through the motions. A lot of you follow me on social media and may already be privy to this update, but I realize that many who come here for Mike’s work in particular may not be aware.
My daughter, Addison Grace, was born with congenital scoliosis that eventually became significant enough that it left her with chronic pain and caused a host of GI issues due to the compression of her trunk. She also had reduced lung capacity because of crowding on one side of her ribs, not to mention a slight limp as her hips were off line.
In an effort to alleviate those issues on a permanent basis, Addison was admitted to Shriners Hospital for Children in St. Louis to undergo 6 weeks of halo gravity traction and a dual-stage spinal fusion surgery. That was just over 3 months ago now and she’s pretty much back to normal, even kicking her soccer ball around and doing a little cardio on the elliptical.
More than any of the actual activity, Addison reports that she has zero pain whatsoever and that, other than some physical changes, she would never even really remember that she’d had surgery. Just an awesome recovery and it’s been a big relief around here.
They said it
- Some things are more important in life than baseball, but for the moment that you’re playing it, there’s nothing more important than it. – Mike Bryant
- Oh my God. I used to look good. What happened? Oh my goodness. That is scary. That hair… What is that thing on my chin? – David Ross
Tuesday Walk Up Song
Shut ‘Em Down, Public Enemy – One of the bigger tracks from Apocalypse 91…The Enemy Strikes Black, the anticipated follow-up to 1990’s Fear of a Black Planet, this was part of the first hip-hop album I ever owned. There’s really nothing deeply significant about the lyrics of this song, other than the title being a good word of warning to school administrators and others with bigger responsibility to the public at large.