Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Quick -- what's the lifestyle change that stings the most during the coronavirus lockdown? Mine is probably relaxing at a restaurant with my family.
For at least the next several months, if not until the advent of a vaccine, we will not be able to enjoy that. In some ways, it's harder now than it was at first.
As this isolation drags on, we are forced to deal with the reality that many of the little things we took for granted were luxuries enjoyed only in a healthy, highly functioning society. We won't be living in one of those for a while, and we are in the process of facing extended behavioral changes.
In this way, the return of Major League Baseball under strict rules can -- in the absolute best-case scenario -- serve to model for the rest of us how to persist in the face of extreme inconveniences.
There are many risks associated with playing baseball in 2020. Frankly, we haven't yet developed a firm opinion on whether it's worth it, though the possibility of sickness and death haunts our reading of these hopeful plans. We hear from support staff who are scared to be called back to work, and that gives us great pause.
So this column isn't an endorsement of MLB's plan. But if the sport does resume -- as we expect it will -- and players follow the draconian guidelines laid out in a document presented to the Players Association on Friday, they'll stage a clinic in new and careful behaviors.
As much as any other group, ballplayers are creatures of habit. They have convinced themselves that they need so many things that in fact they merely want.
I have to hit in the indoor cage.
-- Well, you don't have to.
I need to get out of this room and get a beer.
-- You might really want to, but you don't need to.
I really want to spit right now.
-- Yeah, and I really want to touch my face.
As we all have experienced over the past several months, we don't need as many luxuries and conveniences as we thought we did. We were all spoiled: My family and I at the restaurant, and the ballplayer who believed he couldn't function without extra cage work.
Part of what we've learned since early March is that I can cook seven nights a week and players can certainly play ball without all the extra routines and a beer after the game.
With the country beginning to open up -- and many of our fellow citizens jumping in without caution -- it could be instructive to watch MLB look so different this year. They will be getting back to work, but doing it in ways that will be both cautious and annoying. They will be strongly encouraged to stay away from social gatherings and uncontrolled public spaces.
A single coronavirus death among baseball's ranks would instantly cast the entire enterprise as reckless. This is quite a tightrope, and lives are at stake.
But if it actually works, these ballplayers will model a way forward for the rest of us -- working and playing, but ever-so-carefully until further notice.