Slant Pattern Mailbag

It's time again for the Slant Pattern mailbag. As always, I don't actually get any questions, so I poach them from other mailbags.

The focus this week is depressingly heavy on Conoravirus questions. I had hoped COVID-19 would be something of a brief incursion into our lives in my column four weeks ago, but it's just a fact of life now and will need a lot of addressing.

Joel Espenshade asks the Sports Illustrated NFL mailbag this question:

Which team in your opinion will end up being the MOST negatively affected by COVID-19? Who will be LEAST negatively affected?

It's kind of hard to say, because so much is going to depend on how these teams as organizations instill a culture of taking COVID-19 seriously. They will all give lip service to taking it extremely seriously, and those that actually do will be the best off. But, many teams are run by old-school dudes who think this is all overblown, or perhaps even largely a hoax, and anyway these guys are young and healthy and we're paying them millions of dollars and blah, blah, blah ... those teams will be worse off. It will be hard to know which teams are which unless, grimly, a spike of COVID-19 cases on a team asserts itself.

The only other halfwit theory that I can throw against the wall is that a lot of viruses, and it appears this is one of them, don't flourish as well in extreme heat as they do in more temperate conditions. So perhaps teams like Houston and Arizona will be better off than Seattle.

How do players feel about the proposal to start the season? Those conditions sound bleak. So asks "tylerdrums" of the San Francisco Giants' NBC Sports Bay Area mailbag.

He's referring to the idea that MLB is kicking around to start the season with all teams in Arizona, or a couple different places, under quarantine with just players and essential staff. No traveling.

I can't imagine that the reaction of players will be anything but extremely divided and polarized. Some will be itching to play so bad they'd happily do it on the surface of the sun if they could (and like those old-school NFLers, may not take the crisis very seriously). Others will deeply resent being sequestered involuntarily from their families and might even refuse to do it even if the MLBPA gives their blessing.

That's basically why I think such an idea is a mistake. It's too big of a bullet to bite. I might be more amenable to teams playing in their normal stadia, just with no spectators. I would think 26 players and support staff, particularly with private planes, shouldn't be that big of a risk of catalyzing a renewed outbreak, especially if the world around them is still closed. But here I can't emphasize enough that I'm no expert on disease vectors and I could be wrong.

Finally, Kevin Beane (that's me) asks himself:

When are we going to have more sports beyond what is currently (callously?) being played in Belarus, Tajikistan, Taiwan, and Nicaragua?

Those four countries are the only ones bucking the trends and playing professional team sports. First off, if you're not a sports fan beyond the leagues playing in the United States, you're at a big disadvantage, because they return of sports is going to vary wiiiildly by country.

Here in the United States, it is really almost impossible to predict when we will get our high level sports back, beyond, "not in the next two months, at least."

At some point, that curve we are all working so hard to flatten is going to start its downward trajectory. When that happens, the debate will rage between "we can play sports again, come on!" and "no, it's too soon to let our guard down!" I err on the latter side personally, because this type of pandemic, I am given to understand, wax and wane in several waves, a phenomenon that will be exacerbated if we rush out of quarantine. But, their will be experts saying "Yes! It's fine!" and other experts saying "No, it's not!" and I have no earthly idea which mindset will prevail. The answer, once again, could differ from sport to sport.

That's just the beginning of the uncertainty. I don't think things will be truly back to normal until there is a vaccine and pretty much everyone has taken it. That will most likely take a couple of years. Until then, surveys suggest people will be damn wary of going to the old ballgame even if they are allowed. What happens with the world of sports in the interim is going to be absolutely unpredictable and probably disorderly and beyond contentious. This sucks.

Leave a Comment

Featured Site