If you've ever gone to a Cardinals game on a sweltering summer day, you know just how brutal the heat and humidty can be at Busch Stadium. The players know the feeling as well, though they have the comfort of a shaded dugout in which they can take refuge every half inning and get a temporary break from the sun's rays.
But in 2020, given the current environment of our pandemic-afflicted world, the shade of the dugout may not be an available option. There haven't been any reports that confirm this is part of the league's plan to bring back the sport with safety and health-consciousness in mind, but it's been a rumor that has been floated around.
Nationals manager Dave Martinez alluded to the possibility of players sitting in the stands in order to achieve proper social distancing on the field.
“With one field, it’s going to be hard to do," Martinez said on a video call (via the Associated Press). "If we have to play scrimmage games, maybe using both dugouts (and) some guys in the stands. All these things are going to have to come into play.”
It's not all too unlikely, though, given that social distancing would be a reasonable aspect of baseball's return. In a dugout containing a full roster, you won't exactly be able to provide each guy with a six-foot radius. But Cardinals star Jack Flaherty thinks it's going to be a tough sell. He shared his feelings on the matter with Jomboy, the man who helped unearth the Astros cheating scandal, on his "Talkin' Baseball" podcast.
"There's no way in the middle of summer you're going to convince guys to sit in the stands and watch the game," Flaherty said. "There's absolutely no way. And no cover. If you're going to put us in the suite up in [the] press box, alright, [that's] a different story. But if you're not going to let us be in the club house, and we sit in the stands with no cover, there's no way."
Maybe the league would consider putting a tent-like cover throughout the stands to provide some shade? Just spitballing, here. Whatever the case, players being spread out in stands instead of huddling together as one cohesive unit in a dugout just seems so anti-baseball. That might just be the way things work in 2020, though, given the reports of high-fives, spitting, and other aspects of the game getting banned to promote safety.
Flaherty commented on this, saying that players will "have to really think about controlling [their] emotions in a big game." Game 6 of the 2011 World Series is one example of a big game environment, and its re-airing the other night gave fans a nostalgic and excited feeling, for good reason.
Flaherty was part of the audience, and though he too likely enjoyed reliving that memory, his excitement was accompanied by a somewhat pessimistic thought.
The re-airing of Game 6 isn't the only TV that Flaherty has been watching over the baseball hiatus. He additionally told Jomboy that he had finished The Wire in its entirety over a two-week span, and even he was impressed by that feat. He should be impressed: watching the whole series over two weeks would come out to over four hours of The Wire per day!
Outside of TV, he told Jomboy that he'd been spending his time tossing the baseball around with fellow MLB star and high school teammate Max Fried. We've also seen Flaherty actively express his feelings on baseball's ongoing battle between the players and the owners, and he expanded on this in the podcast episode.
Until those negotiations are resolved, we can't help but feel the same frustration as Flaherty.