PHOENIX – Baseball's bubble-free environment is an anomaly as the sports world tries to come back amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead of bringing a group of teams to Disney World (like the NBA and MLS) or concentrating on a few hub cities (like the current NHL plan), Major League Baseball has 30 teams spread all over the United States and potentially Canada, with players, coaches and team personnel trying to stay healthy while cases are still spreading.
Needless to say, it won't be easy.
Arizona Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen said he'll be constantly reminding everyone in his organization about the delicacy of the current situation. It's especially important in Phoenix, where COVID-19 cases have increased substantially over the past few weeks.
“High-risk behavior is going to impact you and the person standing next to you and the person standing next to them,” Hazen said. "We’re going to be extremely mindful of it. The protocols are going to answer some of those things for us, but away from the field, I believe we are going to have to make sure everyone understands exactly what we mean by high-risk behavior.
“Things are going to have to change temporarily in our lives to be able to do this.”
That means altering the way baseball players behave on and off the field.
The on-field portion is largely addressed in a hefty manual that covers everything from hotels to showers to spitting. It will be awkward and sometimes not particularly practical, but teams are vowing to do their best.