With all the uncertainty clouding the sports universe, all the hypotheticals and speculation making everything hard to follow, all the fighting and negotiating and deliberating... sometimes, you just have to resort to the basics to get a little clarity.
A scale from 1 to 10. Doesn't get any easier than that.
That was how Bryant Gumbel was able to get an answer out of three very special guests that appeared on the most recent episode of HBO's Real Sports, as revealed in a small snippet on YouTube. Joining Gumbel was DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFLPA, Michele Roberts, the executive director of the NBPA, and Tony Clark, the executive director of the MLBPA.
In order to finally get some sort of concrete, easily understandable perspective, Gumbel asked each guest to rank the likelihood of their respective sports returning in 2020. First up was De Smith.
"Tony?" Smith said, taking the pressure off himself to come up with a number. But, fortunately, the trend didn't continue, as Clark provided his thought on baseball that was surprisingly optimistic.
"A 7 would be a C, 8 would be a B, 8.5, maybe a B+," Clark said. "I'm in the B+ range.
"It's really not that simple. Even today I got an update as to how we don't know everything we want to know and how things are continuing to change but I do remain optimistic that we'll get back out there."
It's absolutely worth noting that this interview took place on Thursday, May 21, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Had it been a real-time interview recorded today, after the league presented its proposals for pay cuts, Clark's number may have been significantly lower. After all, we've learned that although the new proposals no longer involve a 50-50 revenue-sharing split, there are dramatic pay cuts in store for high-paid players. According to MLB insider Evan Drellich, the union is "very disappointed" with what they learned from these proposals.
If Clark was overly optimistic at 8.5 out of 10, the other two union leaders were more grounded in their guesses. Roberts, who said earlier this week that players really wanted to play, went next.
"I'll give you a six," Michele Roberts said. "It was probably an eight last week. I've gotten some recent concerns expressed by players now that babies, children have been infected, so heightened concerns have come into the conversation."
Smith echoed that sentiment, initially starting at a six but rounding up unconvincingly to a seven.
"A lot depends on what happens with the other sports, and to say that we aren't looking at what's going to be happening in basketball and baseball and we're not looking at how they work through these things, I'd be lying to you," Smith said. "So how about I go with six, seven on a curve."
The other member of the Big 4 sports, the NHL, made a major announcement today when commissioner Gary Bettman announced that the regular season is over and that a 24-team postseason would begin once play resumed.
The full episode of Real Sports will be air Tuesday night at 10:00 PM ET.