June 30, 2020
Washington National veteran Ryan Zimmerman is among the MLB players who announced that they are opting out of playing this year, on the grounds that they or their families have special factors putting them at greater risk to covid-19. Joe Ross, who was the main contender for the fifth spot in the starting pitching rotation, did likewise. Zimmerman signed a one-year $2 million contract last winter, and that money is subject to the murky conditions that MLB owners and the players agreed to when it was announced that the season would be postponed in March. Other noteable players opting out include former Astros pitcher Gerritt Cole, now with the Yankees, and Mike Leake of the Diamondbacks. I guess Cole figures that with eight years remaining on his nine-year $324 million contract, he can afford to play it safe. See mlb.com.
If a substantial number of other players opt out, it's going to cause a lot of anxiety. Baseball teams are preparing to reopen under the "new normal" protocols for minimizing the risk of covid-19 contagion, but there will be a significant risk no matter what they do. Several members of the Philadelphia Phillies organization have tested positive for covid-19, and all it takes is one careless individual to put an entire team in serious health jeopardy. Games will be played with a figurative cloud of worry hanging overhead. Do fans really want their favorite players to be exposed to such a mortal risk?
According to plans, the umpires make the official "Play ball!" shout in 15 stadiums across the country around July 23 or 24, but with so much uncertainty, nothing should be assumed. Opening Day this year was supposed to be Thursday, March 26. (Personally, I think baseball should never start until April, and should always finish the regular season by the end of September.)
I just made some updates to two of my baseball web pages. First, the Stadium locations page is now a bit more friendly to mobile devices so that you can trigger the map/diagram-changing effects without being redirected to the stadium page for the respective cities, and the larger-scale inset portions of those map/diagrams are shaded pale gray to distinguish them more clearly from the city "map." Second, the Washington Nationals page now includes information about the 2020 season, which of course remains rather uncertain at this point. Also, in the near future (seriously!) I plan to update the Baseball cities page with information about attendance during the decade that was just completed: 2010-2019.