Today is May 4th, Star Wars Day. One year ago today, I was at Yankee Stadium. JA Happ was starting against the Twins and lost. It was the week where the Yankees tried to bring back Miguel Andujar, before agreeing he needed surgery to fix his torn labrum. As annoyed as I was that the Yankees lost, it was still enjoyable. It was CC Sabathia Jedi Bobblehead Day (mine is proudly displayed in my living room), they had Star Wars cosplayers all over the stadium, there was an R2D2 and a Sith alternate R2D2 behind home plate, a Star Wars character parade, and a nice Jumbotron tribute to then-recently deceased actor, Peter Mayhew (the original Chewbacca the Wookie).
Now, one year later (without Disney+, so no massive Star Wars marathon for me today), I’m anxiously waiting (like the rest of all sports fans) for ANY ANNOUNCEMENT about professional sports coming back in 2020. While the proposal for Arizona was logically sound based on all of the numbers present at the time, baseball fans were against seeing their teams play out a season in the sweltering summer of Arizona.
Logically, the only real popular choice left is California.
For Starters, More Professional Stadiums in California
Realistically, you need 15 stadiums if you’re going to follow the CDC’s guidelines of all games played in one state. California already has 5 MLB teams in state: the San Diego Padres, the Los Angeles Angels AND Dodgers, the San Francisco Giants, and the Oakland Athletics. You’d have 10 of the 30 teams playing in those 5 stadiums, no questions asked. You have colleges with esteemed, and nationally known athletic programs like UCLA, USC, and hundreds of more universities to play in. MLB has shared stadium space with NFL teams before, so playing where the 49ers, Chargers, and Rams play are also an option. And there are a good number of minor league baseball teams that play in California.
So while the league may be more spread out than many people would be comfortable with, California is known to be at least a little more temperate than Phoenix in August. Not to mention, you wouldn’t have the other 28 teams complaining about why only 2 teams get to play in the climate control of Chase Field during the peak summer weather in Phoenix.
Coronavirus Has to be Taken Into Effect, and California is Doing Very Well
According to Worldometers.com, California is performing admirably in the face of rising cases around the rest of the country, and the looming threat of a new wave coming in the fall. As of today, last updated at 12:09 PM EST, California has seen only 134 new cases of COVID 19, and 3 new deaths. These are the kind of numbers South Korea was seeing when they decided to push through with having a baseball season.
Now, using that same site, Arizona has seen no new cases, and no new deaths, making Arizona more logical. But, again, California would still be more popular.
California Is More Financially Viable To Have the Season
There is going to be a wide array of financial factors that go into having an MLB season of any length in this pandemic world we’re living in. Sequestering all the players, trainers, umpires, and essential personnel, tests, transportation, and housing for everyone is a shortlist. Of all the states in the country, California (while financially struggling like the rest of the country) is the strongest state financially to take on this burden.
If California were its own country, it would be the 5th strongest economy in the world! That means the state of California is ahead of India, the UK, France, Italy, Brazil, Canada and Russia in GDP. While it doesn’t justify completely why California should divert its spending from helping its citizens financially, it could give the Trump administration reason to give money to the state to ensure a baseball season can happen. Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, has been talking to Commissioner Rob Manfred about starting up baseball soon. And with the trillions already approved to spend by the federal government during this pandemic, I feel like sending California extra cash to ensure a baseball season happens, as well as ensuring COVID-19 doesn’t spread any further, would find widespread bi-partisan approval in DC.
But It Won’t Solve Everything
For starters, everything would still be played on Pacific Time. I’m working for a company that’s been deemed essential. So me staying up every night to watch a 10 PM first pitch isn’t exactly viable for me. You still have the modified divisions to accommodate this crazy situation sports finds itself in. While San Diego to LA isn’t too bad of a commute (2 hours by car), we’re talking at LEAST 4 hours from LA to San Fransisco (we all know Oakland is in the same area so same rules apply). It would be VERY spread out traversing to all of the playing fields for a California 2020 season, leaving more room for infection. And with the projections from the Trump administration that there will be 3,000 deaths per day by June due to the Coronavirus, the need for consolidation, and minimal travel will be essential to pulling off a sports league this year.
I hope we find out something definitive soon. MLB has made it clear that they would want some kind of truncated Spring Training before a 2020 season begins. We’re running out of time for that to happen.