MLB Health And Safety Plan

You’re telling me I can’t dip or spit?!?

Jim Rome
May 19, 2020 - 10:06 am
Sunflower Seeds

USA Today

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Major League Baseball has developed a 67-page health and safety document that outlines the steps that would be involved in being able to return to play baseball. And it is detailed, which it should be. And some of the details are extremely detailed.

Here are some of the basics: players will undergo multiple temperature checks each day, starting at home or the hotel before they leave for the stadium. They will also receive multiple COVID tests per week.

Each team will be allowed to have 50 players, with some number lower than that active for each game, although the official number is still being worked out. Players and team personnel who are not playing in the game will sit in the stands, separated by at least six feet.

Base coaches at first and third are not allowed to approach baserunners or the umpires. Players should not interact with opponents. And, according to Jeff Passan, fielders will be “encouraged to retreat several steps away from the baserunner” between pitches.

I could go on, but here is Jon Heyman with a summary: Out or discouraged in proposed MLB protocols: spitting, seeds, tobacco, licking fingers*, fighting, hitting inside*, meeting inside, batboys, high 5s*, fist bumps, fraternizing, showers, sauna, hydrotherapy*, Uber, subway, leaving the hotel*.

Heyman says that the ban on licking fingers, hitting inside, high fives, hydrotherapy, and leaving the hotel are the toughest ones, according to players and coaches.

He followed that up with another tweet:

Give MLB credit for exhaustive list of protocols (also out: exchanging lineup cards, sitting close in dugout, touching face while giving signs). But after seeing list, a few baseball folks wondered if it’s 1) not as safe as they thought 2) impractical/not doable 3) even worth it

Completely agree. You have to have a very detailed and comprehensive plan if you’re even going to consider starting the season at this point. But when you have that detailed and comprehensive plan, it’s going to come with questions.

When you see it spelled out like that, yeah, I can see why some baseball folks are wondering if it’s even worth it. When you see all of the things that will be banned or discouraged, it feels like it will be a very different game.

Pretty Sure, the game would be the same even without high fives and fist bumps and honestly, and while I hate take any food off the bat boys’ tables, I’m pretty sure the pros can pick up their own bats.  But good look convincing these same pros they have to leave the field after the game without showering. 

And in terms of the game, base coaches can’t approach base runners and fielders are encouraged to back away from the runner between pitches, so can you hold a runner on first base? Or is this just going to be a base stealing free for all?

And the ban on licking fingers seems kind of weird, until you watch a game and notice how many pitchers lick their fingers.

And how about the restriction as it relates to fighting? It took a global health crisis for the league to say, hey, fellas, how about you knock it off with the fighting. Does that mean that throwing inside is going to be banned as well? Because why the hell wouldn’t a pitcher come inside if he knows the batter wont’ charge the mound. Then again, is there really any way to keep a guy from charging the mound if he feels like his livelihood or even life have been threatened.

And then there’s the fact that leaving the hotel is on that list. Holy crap that is wild. You go to the park, don’t hit inside before the game, play the game, don’t shower, take a team bus back to the hotel and then you’re locked in for the rest of the night and following day? Go ask Mike Jordan what it was like to hole up in his hotel room for weeks on end.

And I’d be willing to be that certain guys are going to be extremely agro about one restriction in particular. The one relating to tobacco and spitting.

You’re telling me I can’t dip or spit?!? You know Team Dip is going to lose its mind over that. I can’t shower after games? All right….Fine. But no chaw? Now you’re going too far.

Look, when you asked me to not see my family for four months, I was okay with that, but no spitting?  No dipping? Are you kidding me? I’m picking my cope over my fam every day of the week: I’m addicted to my tin, not my wife.  Or my kids. C’mon man. 

This is why I play the game. I play the game for the love of the game and the love of dip. How much of our salaries do we have to give back to be allowed to dip? How much, I’ll scratch you a check right now to cover my dip fines. 

Better yet…How about this – we’ll play for free, but you pay us in Skoal and Cope? Because you know there are some guys who if you made them chose between their jobs and their dip, they’d take the dip every time. Fact is, some of these guys can’t play without it: some of these guys can’t LIVE without it. I can’t wait til players show up picketing and protesting at the yard that their constitutional dipping rights have been violated. 

But it does raise the question if you have to do all of this to make everything as safe as possible, how safe is it?

If you have to have your temperature checked multiple times per day and have a COVID test multiple times per week and can’t sit next to teammates in the dugout and the base coaches can’t touch their faces to give signs, and players can’t talk to opponents, does it still make sense to play? Again, fraternizing with an opponent doesn’t make or break the game, but when the league feels like that’s an important step to take for safety, it makes you wonder how safe it really is.

Don’t get me wrong. I really want to see baseball return. I want to see all sports return. But I want them to return safely. And if guys are not showering after games and are going back to the hotel and just sitting in their rooms for the 18 or so hours that they’re not at the stadium, is it really safe enough or return? And is it really worth it: especially if they’re not allowed to dip. And fight?