Yesterday, I speculated that MLB could return via a series of crowd free exhibitions. Today ESPN reports a plan to have the league relocate to Arizona.
The plan, sources said, would dictate that all 30 teams play games at stadiums with no fans in the greater Phoenix area, including the Arizona Diamondbacks' Chase Field, 10 spring training facilities and perhaps other nearby fields. Players, coaching staffs and other essential personnel would be sequestered at local hotels, where they would live in relative isolation and travel only to and from the stadium, sources said. Federal officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the National Institutes of Health have been supportive of a plan that would adhere to strict isolation, promote social distancing and allow MLB to become the first professional sport to return.
The May return date depends on a number of concerns being allayed, and some officials believe a June Opening Day could be more realistic, sources said. Most important would be a significant increase in available coronavirus tests with a quick turnaround time, which sources familiar with the plan believe will happen by early May and allow MLB's testing to not diminish access for the general public.
This is a really interesting idea that has great potential.
MLB would be center stage and would have the ability to tell a great story. This is the key - a great story - the return of sports, America's past time and an opportunity to highlight selected players and teams. It's an opportunity for baseball to create a narrative that baseball is again the nations game.
Why do I like this idea so much?
Because the foundation of fandom are the shared stories within a fan community. Why does half (an exaggeration) of America love the Tiger King? Its an interesting but disturbing story of animal exploitation and people that no one wants as neighbors but it's a shared story. We can talk about Doc Antle's "wives" and mock the phrase "Cool Cats and Kittens." In other words, we can share the experience.
This is an opportunity for MLB to create a shared story that is full of positive and hope.