Mets Radio Voice Warns Coronavirus a 'Dark Cloud' Looming Over MLB Season

By WCBS Newsradio 880

As baseball players plan to return to ball fields next month, there remains some concerns as to how coronavirus will continue to affect the shortened season.

Spring training will begin July 3 while the season will begin July 24 and run until Sept. 27 and include 40 divisional games and 20 interleague games with their geographic counterpart.

All players have been asked to stagger their report dates to spring training — which will be held in each teams' primary home cities — in order to avoid everyone arriving at once, but players must report by July 1.

The New York Mets and New York Yankees on Wednesday released a joint statement, saying the teams “have been in touch with Governor (Andrew) Cuomo’s office and will work with the NY State Health Department on a continuing basis to coordinate the return of players from Florida to train in New York next week.”

Radio voice of Mets baseball, WCBS 880’s Howie says he didn’t have any doubts that baseball would return this summer.

“It was a much bumpier road than we expected and it was unfortunate that there was so much ill-will expose publicly between the players and the owners, but you know, look they were trying to figure out how to divvy up X amount of dollars – forget about all the health safety concerns, because that's the primary thing overseeing this whole episode – but no, I did not have any doubt that they figure out how to divide whatever revenues were available and a shortened season,” Rose tells WCBS 880’s Steve Scott.

The entire season will be just 60 games, significantly shortened from the usual 162 games – something that has led many to discredit the 2020 season as being illegitimate. 

However, Rose says baseball fans are mostly just excited to have the sport back 

“I really believe legitimacy is in the eye of the beholder. I think that once baseball starts, we're going to be wrapped up in that daily theater and drama and excitement and it'll be different and I think if everyone goes in with a baseline understanding that this is going to be a unique season, if somebody wants to feel, ‘well this just isn't legit, 60 games,’ that's up to them and that's really as far as it goes. But I think that the average baseball fan just having the game back will be reason to rejoice,” he said.

Before the season can begin, players will still have to go through about three weeks of training and Rose says there is a legitimate concern about players safety.

“This is going to be a sprint as opposed to the normal marathon and that applies to the training methods as well because you're not gonna have the usual spring training facilities with a large number of fields relative to what's available in the home cities,” Rose said. “There's just the inherent easing into the season that I don't think we're gonna have the luxury of seeing here. That's one of the reasons, among many that the rosters are gonna be expanded to begin the season, but I think that's going to be a significant concern all season.”

Coronavirus will also be a large factor this season.

“The governing body in this season is not Major League Baseball nor the Players Association, it is the coronavirus and I think it is very significant to note that within hours after the news late yesterday afternoon, that there was an agreement which would permit the season to begin in late July, we get word that Charlie Blackmon, an All Star with the Colorado Rockies and a couple of teammates tested positive working out at Coors Field in Denver,” Rose said. “You know what happened down here in Florida, where I've been since October – this is home for me – so  I've seen things develop here that have forced teams to vacate all spring training sites, not only in Florida but in Arizona and that is a very, very dark cloud looming overhead and one that cannot be ignored.”

Meanwhile, he worries about his own health and safety as he returns to work.

“I'm of an age where I'm considered vulnerable. I don't mind acknowledging that I'm 66 years of age and Dr. (Anthony) Fauci says that even if you are in good health, if you are over the age of 65, you have an underlying condition and so that means that I personally will approach this with a great degree of trepidation,” the Mets broadcaster said.

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