Hey baseball, make sure calendars aren't part of this equation

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We need sports back. That is a fact.

It is why NFL free agency was such a welcome respite from reality, as will be the virtual reality NFL Draft. There can't be a curl-up-in-the-corner mentality for weeks upon weeks and months upon months. There have to be distractions, and that is always what sports offered -- albeit one bathed in high finance.

There are also economic ramifications of not having sports. That is not lost on anyone, including those in the very same industry I find myself in. These are life-changing times with sports being more than a few pieces of this awful puzzle.

But baseball ... Come on! Desperation is not a good look right about now.

It was reported Monday night by ESPN that Major League Baseball was forming a plan to return. It's a bit out there, but ideas should be surfaced. Playing all the games in Arizona. Sequestering players, coaches, umpires and a small group of essential personnel for a three-week spring training leading into what could be a four-month season. 

Three games a day at Chase Field. Constant COVID-19 testing for all involved. Federal health officials are signing off on the plan.

So, what is wrong with floating the foundation for such an idea? Nothing. The problem is trying to put a date on anything. News flash: We can guess and project, but this is all new territory. For a professional sports league to keep dropping timelines seems unbelievably misguided. (Update: MLB released a statement Tuesday morning saying no dates or timelines are part of this equation. To read the statement scroll to the end of this column.)

When the headline and first paragraph of the ESPN.com story highlights a possible "May return" that tells you the priority of those wanting to get this story out. And then there is this bit four paragraphs in:

The May return date depends on a number of concerns being allayed, and some officials believe a June Opening Day could be more realistic, sources said. Most important would be a significant increase in available coronavirus tests with a quick turnaround time, which sources familiar with the plan believe will happen by early May and allow MLB's testing to not diminish access for the general public.

Stop it.

I hope all of that happens. Just like I was looking forward to going to church on Easter Sunday when President Donald Trump proclaimed that being a very real possibility.

And I do have faith in a lot of these medical folks who are signing off on this idea. But I also know that common sense will tell us that to predict something like this for more than a month from now seems unbelievably unproductive. Remember a month ago and what those projections looked like? Heck, even after the NBA postponed its season on March 11 MLB still wasn't going to have its league-wide conference call until two days later, going ahead with more spring training games the next day.

And then, even before any plan was hatched, Rob Manfred suggested May could be a return date. That was uttered when Florida still didn't think spring-breaking was a bad idea. He said it because he hoped. And in the words of Red in Shawshank Redemption, "Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane."

It feels like this sort of hope baseball is throwing at us is absolutely a dangerous and desperate thing. We want it to be so. Manfred wants it to be so. Trump wants it to be so. That's all well and good. But can we also can't get ahead of ourselves, and that's exactly what we're doing here.

The race to be the first kid back on the block in the sports world is one that shouldn't be taking entry fees quite yet. Calendars can't be part of this equation. Not quite yet, anyway.

Update ...

Statement