We learned this week that the Biden administration wants the start of baseball season to be delayed, a desire that at this point stands to go unfulfilled because the Major League Baseball Players Association is not willing to let ownership link such a delay with a reopening of their collective bargaining agreement.
The MLBPA is right about this. If the season is to be delayed because of COVID-19, it shouldn’t be connected to other labor issues like the universal designated hitter and expanded playoffs. It should be about doing the right thing.
The right thing is a delay, not opening spring training camps in another week and a half. We’re still seeing more than 100,000 new cases of coronavirus on a daily basis in this country, and losing 3,000-plus people a day. The situation with the pandemic remains far worse than it was 11 months ago when sports shut down. Pushing back baseball season would allow for more time to get people vaccinated, in order to proceed with a safer summer game.
But if we’re talking about delaying baseball because it’s really not safe yet to go ahead with a sport where the vast majority of the activity is outdoors, and a game that’s reasonable to play while wearing masks, well, what the hell are we doing with the indoor sports whose seasons are underway?
Hockey is a total shitshow right now, which anyone could have seen coming since October. The cold air at ice level and heavy breathing of players are a recipe for trouble, and the slew of cancellations in hockey, from various NHL games to the scrubbing of the NWHL’s Isobel Cup playoffs, are nothing more than that recipe being followed by continuing to play.
But what’s really galling right now is basketball, where not only is the NBA trying to futz its way through a season, with ludicrous results — such as Kevin Durant being held out of Friday night’s game, then allowed to play, then pulled — but planning to hold an All-Star Game.
LeBron James wants nothing to do with it. Same for Giannis Antetokounmpo. And De’Aaron Fox. And Joel Embiid. Friday night, Kawhi Leonard offered the most blunt take on the situation, pointing out that the only reason to be going ahead with the All-Star Game is money.
Money over health has been the story of far too much of the past 11 months, and even longer than that in America, if we’re being honest. It’s time for the NBA and NHL to hit pause again, and for the baseball season to be delayed. We did it last year, and we can do it again now, especially with the light visible at the end of the tunnel thanks to a ramping-up vaccination program. It didn’t have to be this way, of course, but the entire country endured a much worse situtation than we could have had thanks to completely incompetent leadership under the previous president.
It’s time to finally put health over money. Call off the All-Star Game. Stop the seasons. Get it right and stop sending athletes around the country to keep spreading the virus in the name of collecting television dollars and putting on a charade that we’re closer to normal than we really are. The lesson we should be learning is that the longer you screw around with a pandemic, the longer it takes to beat it. It’s time to stop screwing around.