Chicago Cubs slugger Kris Bryant is urging Major League Baseball to put the health of the players, their families, and the fans first as the coronavirus crisis continues its rapid growth.
Hours before the NBA suspended its season due to Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert testing positive for COVID-19, Bryant said the health and safety of those who play baseball or were looking forward to attending a game should be the primary factor in every decision regarding the 2020 season.
We just we all need to take precautions and be safe. I have a lot of family members who are older, too, and I’d love to keep them safe and our fans and everyone around the game. It just shows there are things bigger than baseball, and these are things we need to take very seriously.
When the possibility of playing regular season games in empty stadiums was brought up, Bryant said:
I keep saying it’s people’s safety and health that is the most important thing. If we can find a way to not put people in jeopardy, that’s what I’m all for.
People’s lives mean more to me than baseball.
MLB still weighing options
MLB has not yet reacted to the NBA’s news. Earlier on Wednesday, Bryant said the league had not yet shared any specific options that were being considered for the regular season.
Kris Bryant (player rep) says he's been in contact with the PA/league but only about spring training policies re the coronavirus. He figures we'll hear soon enough about anything reg season related— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) March 11, 2020
Bryant’s teammate, Yu Darvish, says it’s inevitable that a player or someone closely associated with MLB will get the virus, thus forcing a shutdown. But he also doesn’t feel the league needs to act quickly.
Yu Darvish said that “at some point somebody [in MLB] will get coronavirus I think, and they’ll do the same as the NBA.”— Hannah Keyser (@HannahRKeyser) March 12, 2020
But “if I’m commissioner I would want to see more, like one more week.”
MLB has limited its coronavirus-related policies to spring training so far. Most notably, the league opted to ban the media from clubhouses as a preventative measure.
The league was reportedly weighing options after it was announced that that Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics would not be allowed to play their opening series at home as scheduled.
Hear that the #Mariners are not going to play their first 2 series at home by governor decree. MLB. Working on scenarios to relocate— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) March 11, 2020
In our support of public health, and ensuring the safety of our community, we have released the following statement. pic.twitter.com/yC6ydsFxTL— Oakland A's (@Athletics) March 12, 2020
The A’s and San Francisco Giants previously announced they have canceled an exhibition game scheduled for March 24 at Oracle Park in San Francisco.
As Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times points out, every possible solution presents its own set of issues.
To reiterate ... the Mariners and MLB have been discussing contingency plans for this situation for over a week. They've discussed playing the games in Arizona. Playing the games in Texas and Minnesota, and playing an empty stadium. All of them have potential problems— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) March 11, 2020
With 15 days remaining before opening day, the league seemed intent to wait and weigh every one of those options before making a decision. In wake of the NBA’s decision, the league no longer has that luxury.
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