What Would Doo Do When It Comes to Owners' Reopening Plan? It's a Tough One

John Hickey

One of the sharpest Major League Baseball players I ever had the good fortune to cover on a regular basis is one-time A’s reliever Sean Doolittle.

If you don’t follow Doolittle, who won a World Series ring with the Nationals last year, on twitter @whatwouldDOOdo, you should.

He loves baseball. He loves life, too, and he’s leery about trading one for the other.

Doolittle took to Twitter Monday for a long series of tweets that spells out the decision players are facing in the new proposal they are getting from the owners about resuming baseball, with spring training in June and the regular season in early July.

Doolittle wants to play, but it’s clear from reading what he has to say the decision is far from a slam-dunk.

Here’s what he wrote:

“Bear with me, but it feels like we've zoomed past the most important aspect of any MLB restart plan: health protections for players, families, staff, stadium workers and the workforce it would require to resume a season. Here are some things I'll be looking for in the proposal.

“Because this is a novel virus, there is still so much we don't know - including the long-term effects. On top of respiratory issues, there's been evidence of kidney, intestinal, and liver damage, as well as neurological malfunctions, blood clots & strokes. https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/coronavirus-destroys-lungs-but-doctors-are-finding-its-damage-in-kidneys-hearts-and-elsewhere/2020/04/14/7ff71ee0-7db1-11ea-a3ee-13e1ae0a3571_story.html

“Covid-19 patients often develop lung scarring, or 'ground-glass opacities'. These were found even in asymptomatic patients, and because the virus often affects both lungs, can cause permanent damage in some cases. Definitely a concern for an athlete.

“Research has shown Covid-19 may cause issues with male hormone ratios - even in younger men, which could lead to fertility complications. Not ideal. Extremely suboptimal. Zero stars.

‘We know that sharing indoor spaces greatly increases the infection risk, and it's rare that only 1 person gets sick. Will there be modifications made to clubhouses or other facilities to prevent a spread? https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.04.20053058v1.full.pdf

“And we've learned that you release the most virus into your environment prior to symptoms even showing. So how frequently will we be testing to stay ahead of a potential spread and to mitigate as much risk as possible? https://virologie-ccm.charite.de/fileadmin/user_upload/microsites/m_cc05/virologie-ccm/dateien_upload/Weitere_Dateien/analysis-of-SARS-CoV-2-viral-load-by-patient-age-v2.pdf

“Fauci spoke about conducting an NFL season & indicated a need for daily testing. Baseball players might not be in close contact during a game the way football players are, but there is a lot of shared space in a clubhouse among players, coaches and staff.

“So how many tests do we need to safely play during a pandemic? And not just tests for players. Baseball requires a massive workforce besides the players; coaches, clubhouse staff, security, grounds crews, umpires, gameday stadium staff, TV & media...we need to protect everyone.

“And that's before we get to hotel workers and transportation workers (pilots, flight attendants, bus drivers). They are essential workers. We wouldn't be able to play a season without them, and they deserve the same protections.

“We need to consider what level of risk we're willing to assume. 80% of cases are considered mild, but what if a player, a staff member, an auxiliary worker, or a family member gets a case that's in the 20% and they develop severe symptoms or chronic issues? 1 feels like too many?

“There are a number of players & staff who have pre-existing conditions that they are aware of (and likely more who aren't yet). We need a plan that seriously considers the increased health concerns of any players, staff or workers who are at higher risk.

“And if even mild cases can cause long-term health effects, will there be added healthcare benefits for players, staff and workers that will extend beyond their employment and into retirement to mitigate the unknown risks of putting on a baseball season during a pandemic?

“We don't have a vaccine yet, and we don't really have any effective anti-viral treatments. What happens if there is a second wave? Hopefully we can come up with BOTH a proactive health plan focused on prevention AND a reactive plan aimed at containment.

“Hopefully these concerns will be addressed in MLB's proposal, first and foremost: 1) what's the plan to ethically acquire enough tests? 2) what's the protocol if a player, staff member, or worker contracts the virus? We want to play. And we want everyone to stay safe.

“Sorry, I had to get that out of my system. I'm going to turn my phone off now. Best of luck to my mentions. Stay safe. Keep washing your hands and wearing your masks. I hope we get to play baseball for you again soon.”

What will Doo do? I don’t know. But I know the decision won’t be easy.

Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3

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