Sometimes, it’s easiest to understand the scope of how messed up things are just by looking at the headlines. So, here are a few from the last 24-hour news cycle.
Talking Points Memo: Sen. Kennedy Admits COVID-19 Will Spread Faster If Economy Reopens, Says It Should Reopen Anyway
New York Post: Congressman says US should reopen economy — even if more would die
Salon: Will Trump try to “reopen the economy” by force — even if thousands more die?
Associated Press: Powerful GOP allies propel Trump effort to reopen economy
Someone needs to stand up to this madness, don’t they? After all, it’s not the case that Donald Trump can just say magic words and send everyone back to work, endangering countless lives, right? In the American system of government, there is a lot of power that state and local officials can wield, and that’s where New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has stood out amid this crisis, right?
“We have to start to phase in the opening of the economy while we’re watching the public health consequence and the number of hospitalizations, etc.,” Cuomo said in a CNN interview with his brother Chris on Wednesday night. “Testing is the best mechanism for you to get your way through this 12-18 months. Now, why doesn’t the president want to go near testing? Because testing is a quagmire. No one can do it. No one can bring it up to scale quickly. It is very complicated. I have spent days and days on this. Government doesn’t really do testing. It’s really a private lab function. To now take testing and ramp it up to where you have to bring it, Chris, is an impossibility.”
That’s very reassuring! Cuomo understands that safety is paramount, that there’s no way to safely start returning to normal without widespread testing, and that therefore the first step to restarting things is to solve that testing “quagmire.” Meanwhile, Cuomo’s order for New Yorkers to wear masks in public was Thursday’s front page news in the Big Apple.
Now, let’s check the ol’ sports section… “Andrew Cuomo talks baseball-return hope with Mets’ Jeff Wilpon”
Oh, yes. In the same CNN interview where he was so on the ball about testing, here was Cuomo about baseball: “I said why can’t we talk about a baseball season with nobody in the stands? Why can’t you play the game with the players? I think it would be good for the country. I think it would be good for people to have something to watch and do. To fight cabin fever. I think it’s something I’m going to pursue.”
Why can’t you play the game with the players? We’ve been over this, but can review it again. To begin with, a baseball game isn’t just players. There are managers, coaches, and trainers who are essential to teams being able to play their games. To make it so “people have something to watch,” there must be television crews. There have to be workers who wash the uniforms, maintain the field, and open and close the park. It’s easy to think of baseball as only needing 18 people, nine on each side. But even the barest-bones version of Major League Baseball would involve more than 100 people.
That’s before you even get to the questions of what happens if a player tests positive for coronavirus and everyone who’s been around him needs to be quarantined. Or, even if everyone stays virus-free, what happens when players get hurt and their replacements from the minor leagues aren’t in game shape because there might not be a minor league season.
It was bad enough when Cuomo was suggesting closed-stadium games earlier in the week as a way to fill television time. As governor of New York, it should hardly be his concern anyway, unless he really thinks that the way baseball returns is in the actual major league stadiums, and that twice a week, teams will get on planes, go criss-crossing around the country, and come into contact with even more people along their way. It’s fine for MLB and other leagues to be figuring out their plans to return, but elected officials need to have their attention on questions beyond “how can we get live stuff back on TV?” It should go without saying that getting laundromats reopened is more important than starting the baseball season, but apparently that’s something that does, in fact, need to be said.
As disquieting as all of this is to see from Cuomo, whose spot as gubernatorial star of this crisis really belongs to Gavin Newsom, the most troubling aspect of “Andrew Cuomo talks baseball-return hope with Mets’ Jeff Wilpon” is the part where Andrew Cuomo talks to Jeff Wilpon.
Not some Jeff Wilpon you’ve never heard of, but the Jeff Wilpon who is Fred Wilpon’s son and COO of the Mets. The same Jeff Wilpon who is so loathsome, The New York Times didn’t even try to both-sides it in December with the headline, “Fans Didn’t Like the Way Jeff Wilpon Ran The Mets. Neither Did Some of His Relatives.” The subhead had a classic Times “but” … but only to further the slam: “The Wilpons had limited success after becoming majority owners of the Mets in 2002. But the team’s dysfunction was mirrored by the family discord that ultimately forced a sale.”
If Wilpon family discord forced a sale of the Mets, why is Jeff still there? Because the team didn’t get sold. Because Jeff blew it.
The only good reason for Andrew Cuomo to talk to Jeff Wilpon is to tell him that just because you have a famous and powerful father and you wind up doing the same job that he did, it doesn’t mean you have to be a huge schmuck. But that would be out of character for Cuomo, the huge schmuck who cut Medicaid funding in the middle of a pandemic, and who even this week declared “the worst is over,” then the next day found himself announcing 778 new deaths, just shy of the highest single-day total for the state in the pandemic. And because Cuomo is a huge schmuck, his never-ending political slap fight with New York City mayor and, fellow huge schmuck Bill de Blasio, just had to continue as crisis loomed, costing lives. If Cuomo wants to watch baseball, maybe he can watch some from Taiwan, and also learn a thing or two about proper governmental response to coronavirus.
People who are making life-and-death decisions should not be spending any time on the phone with Jeff Wilpon, let alone reaching out to him for guidance about how to handle decisions that stand to put even more lives at risk. Maybe instead of talking to the Business Idiot Failson Schmuck, the governor could have talked to someone for whom the return of baseball would actually mean engaging in risk.
Turns out, the best player in baseball had something to say about that, and Cuomo wouldn’t even have had to call him up.
USA Today: ‘I think that’s pretty crazy’: Mike Trout on difficulties of MLB’s baseball bubble idea
Sometimes, it’s easiest to understand the scope of how messed up things are just by looking at the headlines.