MLB: Play Ball, But Don’t Spit
Major League Baseball's ambitious return-to-play plans during the coronavirus pandemic include processing upward of 10,000 COVID-19 tests per week, overhauling stadiums and in-game settings to encourage social distancing, and rigorous rules intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to a draft of the league's health-and-safety manual obtained by ESPN.
The document, which is missing multiple sections, will swell beyond its robust 67 pages when complete. In this form, it is still a highly detailed road map that would require a staggering amount of effort to complete before the league's hopeful mid-June return to facilities and early-July Opening Day.
While its thoroughness in some areas is apparent, a number of questions are left unanswered -- an issue that will be addressed as the league and Major League Baseball Players Association continue negotiating a return-to-play deal and MLB solicits feedback on the protocol.
For now, it covers testing, travel, in-stadium adjustments, on-field changes, and a wide array of other issues. Teams will be allowed to have 50 players each under the plan, with the number active for each game still being negotiated. Players and other team personnel not participating in the game would sit in the stands, separated by at least 6 feet. They would apply the same distancing standards to the national anthem.
High-fives, fist bumps, and hugs would be prohibited, as would spitting, tobacco use, and chewing sunflower seeds. Fielders would be "encouraged to retreat several steps away from the baserunner" between pitches. First- and third-base coaches are not to approach baserunners or umpires, and players should not socialize with opponents.
Players would be discouraged from showering at stadiums after games and would not be allowed to take taxis or use ride-sharing apps on the road.
The Athletic first reported the specifics of the memo.
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