It’s time to play a ball again. That’s what Colorado governor Jared Polis says.
While safety remains his primary concern during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Polis is ready to return to sports and hopes the first roll of the Rockies 2020 season will be thrown in early July.
“We long for a sense of normalcy and a sense of getting our lives back,” Polis told The Denver Post on Thursday. ‘That can mean university football and professional baseball or any other sport. That’s part of our life, and as long as the players are willing to take that slightly increased risk of coming back, and they all succeed, the fans will be there.
“We are ready for a baseball season and ultimately for a football season. Especially in these times of great fear, we need our distraction and we need our sport. ”
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock stressed that safety should not come first, just as baseball is missed.
“Baseball season is a special time of the year in Denver that people look forward to all year round,” said Hancock. “The fact that the season has been postponed and that fans miss the atmosphere of the opening day and all the games after that has been another blow to our community during this pandemic.
“While it would certainly be exciting to see our Rockies get back on the diamond, just like everything else in our society that is reopening, we need to make sure it happens in a way that improves the health and safety of the players, coaches and all staff in the first place. And if fans can see teams live again, their health and safety should also be a priority. “
Major League Baseball, which halted spring practice on March 13, has set a tentative return date of July 4 hoping to play an 82-game schedule, though much detail needs to be worked on to make that happen. Under the current proposals, no fans are allowed at Coors Field or other Major League parks.
Polis said he spoke to Rockies owner Dick Monfort four or five times, adding, “We’re both excited about the prospect of playing baseball at Coors Field.”
Polis spoke to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred on Monday and got away with the feeling that strong safety guidelines will be worked out. Last Friday, MLB submitted a first draft safety proposal to the MLB Players Association in a 67-page document describing how baseball can be restarted amid the pandemic. If a final agreement can be reached on security issues and if MLB and the players’ union can work out their financial differences, Polis is optimistic that there will be a season for 2020.
But, he said, both owners and players will likely have to take “a financial haircut.”
“Like too many things in baseball and soccer and professional sports, it all comes down to money,” said Polis, who is a big baseball fan. “The players and the owners are negotiating. I think for the fans we all hope they have a season. We want them to have a season.
“I understand both positions. I understand the players (side). They play with extra risk and it’s a shortened season and they probably know they’re going to have a haircut, and at some level it might just not be worth their time.
“And I understand the position of the owners. They see much less income and they can’t have it all on their shoulders. It should also make sense for them to open the season. I really hope the economy works. They will both need a financial haircut, but I think both the owners and the players can make money, and more importantly we fans can have a real baseball season no matter how short. ”
According to The Associated Press, MLB has reportedly told players it wants to lose $ 4 billion projects even if a season is in play. The parties agreed in March that players would earn a proportional salary based on games played, but owners voted last week to propose salaries based on an income split between 50 and 50.
As for the safety protocols proposed by MLB, Polis is on board.
“Absolutely,” he said. “They must ensure that their players, staff and referees are reasonably safe. They are going to test regularly and one of the safest places will be associated with Major League Baseball. … They can afford the kinds of protocols the rest of us can’t. “
As for the Broncos, whose regular season opens on September 14 vs. Tennessee, Polis is hopeful.
“It will also be one of those things where the NFL has to figure out how to play games,” he said. “As long as they have good safety protocols, I don’t think there’s any reason to think it’s less safe.”
However, the governor added that baseball should be prepared and have an alternative plan if players test positive for the corona virus.
“I hate to say it, but it is certainly likely that at some point there will be people associated with a team that is (infected) during an outbreak,” he said. So there has to be a way for games to be played and moved without compromising. Maybe that means more double heads – treat them like rain showers.
“But if there are seven or eight players on a team coming up with COVID-19, you have to wait and close that team for a week or two.”
Polis doesn’t expect fans to watch Rockies games at Coors Field later in the season, but does make a suggestion.
“I advised the Commissioner to allow a few Coloradans in each game,” he said. “We can have a military night, we can have a night for nurses and first responders. It is symbolically important. We could all see through them vicariously when we watch on television. ‘