At the onset of spring training, there was a sense of optimism for the Cubs and White Sox. Although Joe Maddon was the most successful manager in Cubs history his shelf life expired. Ironically the departure of the man that ended the North Side’s jinx was viewed as a positive. On the South Side, the White Sox aggressive offseason moves forced the baseball betting community to take them seriously. And then came COVID-19 and brought the Opening Day that never was.
Hope Springs Eternal
On this occasion, after weeks of inaction, there is substantial hope for baseball fans. Major League Baseball has announced the beginning stages of a reopening plan. Most important of all is the goal of games starting in late June or early July. With that announcement comes understandable excitement from Windy City baseball fans. In spite of the fact that no fans will be allowed at ballparks. At first anyway.
But with no games at all Cubs and White Sox fans will gladly take radio and TV baseball over nothing. Especially with such potential for good seasons on each side of Chicago. Both the Cubs and Sox were trendy futures bets at USA sportsbooks. The Cubs were seen as a still talented team that has been underachieving. While few teams in Major League Baseball had a more impressive hot stove league performance than the Sox.
First Major League Baseball Reopening Plan Strikes Out
First, Major League Baseball considered a spring training quarantine option. Teams would stay at their spring training facilities in Arizona and Florida. They would only play other teams that trained in those states. Instead of the American and National Leagues, it would be the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues. However, the Major League Baseball Players Association was not thrilled with the idea. Living in a hotel without family and loved ones for several months had no appeal. Even to players making millions of dollars.
Of course, millions of fans correctly said that living in a luxury hotel and getting paid millions to play baseball ain’t exactly like going off to war. But Major League Baseball executives know that they must pick their battles with the player’s union. Moreover, is the fact that the tail often wags the dog in Big League Baseball. Thus, the unveiling of a new plan to get things going. While getting more cooperation from a union that has become more powerful than the owners. It’s a classic case of pragmatism in sync with reality.
The New Reopening Plan
First on the current reopening plan is that Major League Baseball will have its games played at home parks. A 100-game regular-season schedule is the favored route. Furthermore, divisions will be different and based on geography. West, Central, and East Divisions will keep teams close together. And cut down on long travel. By having each team based in its home city and park players can be with family and live at home.
In the same way, does this plan offer more certainty? A firm schedule can be drawn up. Instead of “winging it” like the Cactus and Grapefruit League plan would have done. Correspondingly the time may come where fans could eventually be allowed to come to games. Under the old plan leaving the spring training facilities for home base as the season was underway proved logistically cumbersome. As a result, the current home base plan makes the most sense.
Baseball and Fans Must Adapt or Lose
Admittedly the COVID-19 crisis has opened up a lot of eyes as to where the real MLB money comes from. Television needs fresh content and is paying billions of dollars to get it. Empty baseball stadiums hosting real games is still a moneymaker for Major League Baseball. Not to mention an action starved sports betting
industry. From this point, packed ballparks may be a thing of the past. What’s more, it may not even matter. In this new age, everyone seems willing to adapt in order to have live sports.