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Could the NBA quickly follow baseball’s plan, return by June?

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Let’s explore the likelihood of the Phoenix Suns returning to basketball soon

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Portland Trail Blazers Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday, talk began to surface that Major League Baseball is hatching a plan to get their season going sooner than later. And they want to do it in May. In Arizona. With all 30 teams huddled in isolation bubbles around town to ward off restarting the novel coronavirus pandemic that has basically shut down the whole planet for the past two months.

NONE of the world’s governments, smartest scientists or health officials have come up with any better plan than “STAY HOME” and don’t go near anyone else. That’s it. That’s the plan. Quarantine each of the earth’s 7.8 billion inhabitants into separate spaces, at least six feet apart, until... well, WE DON’T EVEN KNOW WHEN ‘UNTIL’ IS!

And yet, the 30 owners of major league baseball teams have cracked the code.

And the code is: Within the next 6 weeks, let’s bring thousands of players, coaches and team employees from all over the world to Phoenix Arizona, away from their families for up to 4.5 months, ask them to stay sequestered in their hotel rooms unless summoned to a 110-degree open-air stadium for baseball game, play 7-inning DOUBLE HEADERS in said heat, expect them to remain 6+ feet apart from each other the whole time (I don’t even know how a battery at home plate is supposed to form, or holding a runner on first, or tagging out a runner at second), in front of no fans, and squeeze in 162 games plus playoffs without major incident.

Because what could go wrong?

It’s all about money. Who cares about health.

Double the rosters to absorb the occasional quarantined player(s) who inevitably get infected with it anyway. Sure it won’t KILL the players because they’re men. Young and healthy and virile. They’ll survive.

Except those young men are surrounded by team trainers, coaches and personnel who might not be as immuno-platinum as the players.

Just kick out the weak! Sure, we can do that. Let’s only invite the strong and supple. Ban all those losers with respiratory diseases or high blood pressure or history of heart issues or, well, any other everyone-has-it problem.

And hey, there’s NO CHANCE any of those players will venture out into the Phoenix community right? Heck, we probably won’t even know they’re here. I can totally see us watching games on TV here in Phoenix and asking ourselves “Gosh golly, those guys must be invisible. There’s no possible incentive, for me as a fan, to sneak down to the park to yell and scream for an autograph when they arrive or leave. But... wait a cotton-pickin minute... invisibility is a hoax! Maybe I should go down to the stadium after all! I’m sure no one else has had this genius idea.”

How about fans from the 29 other teams flying in to Phoenix to check out their home team? You telling me this won’t be like spring training all over again? If you’re telling me that, I won’t believe you. People are motivated by sports. Not just owners and players. Fans too. They will fly in, bringing the sick with them.

Bada boom bada bing.

Phoenix could become the next New York City.

Imagine Doug Ducey on TV every morning begging for ventilators and PPE, only to be told he’s got to find them on the open market at whatever price he has to pay.

At this point, you think I’m exaggerating, right? The MLB owners — who I guarantee will be safely in their homes watching games on TV — would never put billions of dollars before the health of its players!

Folks, let me remind you that NO ONE knows how to stop this thing besides telling us all to stay home. No socializing. No groups. Only immediate, YOUNG family.

They don’t have any known, proven treatments. They don’t even know if we HAVE the COVID-19 virus until after we’ve already given it to others for up to two weeks. Oh, yeah, and it kills one out of every 100 it infects.

Let’s pretend the curve flattens by May and we all think this thing is dead. Well, let me clarify for you it’s ONLY flattened because we all stayed home. Because that’s our best plan. That’s our only plan. No one on this entire planet has proven that the curve stays flat if you re-open the country.

Come on Dave, it’s only maybe a 3% chance to get infected. If you do get it, you only have a measly 1% chance to die from it.

Let’s take the skittles test.

Sorry mom. Sorry grandad. You’ve had a good life. At least I got baseball now.

Okay, okay, let’s say every single thing breaks right for the owners. Let’s say that MLB does what the Chinese Basketball League has failed to do so far. And South Korean basketball too.

Let’s say baseball is unique enough — because, really, most of them DO stand at least six feet apart during a game anyway — that they make it happen. Teams are summoned to Phoenix and holed up for two weeks of quarantine and a battery of health tests. The biggest, baddest, healthiest mofos are cleared to play.

Could NBA basketball follow suit? How about the NFL?

I want basketball back as much as you do. Maybe more. I’ve lived and breathed Suns basketball most of my long life, the last 10 writing about it on this here blog. I’m dyin of boredom without basketball. I actually watched a retread Lakers game the other day!

Well, Jimmy, there’s a difference between baseball and them other sports.

Baseball exists almost entirely without regular physical contact during live play, while basketball and football are based almost entirely ON contact. Right there you’ve got a much better transmission rate.

Also, baseball has 25 players per team and they are used to moving new guys in and out of the lineups on a daily basis. Only 10-15 of those 25 even play on a given day. On not even the same 10-15. They more ready to handle quarantines of multiple players at once.

Whereas in basketball, where 10-12 of the 15-man roster play every single game. it’s devastating to lose a number of players at once. Just look at the Suns this year! Imagine adding COVID-19 to the list of crap that’s going to go wrong.

Baseball players are spread out naturally across a huge field, rarely coming close to each other. You might see 3-4 instances of players invading each other’s breathing range in an hour. And they don’t even touch the same equipment. It’s easy to switch out the baseballs every time a player touches it with a bare hand. The game was probably invented by an introverted germaphobe who appreciated social distancing without knowing what to call it.

Whereas basketball is played almost entirely within breathing range of each other. They’re all touching the same ball all game long. they’re sweating on each other, grabbing each other, boxing out, defending face to face. Basketball is more social bump-and-grinding than social distancing.

I could keep going.

But all I can do is hope Adam Silver doesn’t cow to his 0.01%-ish owners and panicked players and instead just focuses on what’s best for the health of everyone involved. For the sake of all of us.

Even if MLB comes back, that doesn’t mean the NBA should.

Until there’s an antibody test to tell if you’ve already had it and are immune, or have it right now. And those tests are available in abundance in clinics, doctors offices and hospitals, like the flu test. And a treatment that works. And all hospitals can handle the traffic. And the death rate drops way down.

That’s some big hurdles to clear.

When that happens, let’s get sports back!

Until then, no thanks.

Poll

Do you think the MLB playing in June in Phoenix is a good idea?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    Yes! Everyone’s overreacting
    (13 votes)
  • 26%
    Yes! I believe those hurdles will be cleared to play by June
    (34 votes)
  • 63%
    No. There’s no way it’s safe by then for player or us
    (82 votes)
129 votes total Vote Now