One thing having a 162-game Major League Baseball season crunched to 60 games and shackled by protocols can do is to make life pretty simple for your average player.
If you play for the Oakland A’s, the 2020 daily schedule might go something like this: sleep, video games, baseball, video games, sleep. Mix in a few meals and a coronavirus test every other day, and that’s how July, August and September can be expected to play out.
That’s assuming the season doesn’t get scratched. Commissioner Rob Manfred suggested that possibility Friday, but he was singing a much more upbeat tune Saturday.
And the A’s say the way they are handing their time during the pandemic is working for the health of players and staff and for the ability of baseball to continue to go forward.
“We're bunked up in our hotel room and we come to the field and mess around and then we go back to our hotel room and play video games,” Chris Bassitt, who will start Sunday in Seattle for the A’s. “That's literally our schedule, every single day.
“Honestly, I don’t think we’ve had to worry about one thing on our team. We have a very mature group; it’s pretty easy to stay inside and, thankfully, we have a lot of guys that play video games and we all kind of mess around and play video games all day, and we all in the hotel room playing video games against each other. And that’s pretty much it.”
Word on the street got out that some of the Miami Marlins spent time at a nightclub and that some of the St. Louis Cardinals may have spent time in a casino. The Marlins and Cardinals are now dealing with coronavirus outbreaks, and the A’s can only look from afar with a shaking of heads.
Asked about the reports of players not staying in their rooms, A’s outfielder Ramon Laureano wanted to make sure he chose his words well.
“This is not to insult anybody, but there are going to be guys who are going to do things,” the center fielder said. “If we’re talking about 30 teams with, what, 60 players on the who roster or pool or whatever, People have habits that they’ve got to go out. That’s how they relax, and it’s just going to happen. We’re human beings.
“But we’ve got to do our part as players, staff, team members in everything. It’s not leaving a place. When you go from the hotel to the field, from the field to the hotel. We’ve got to take control of the situation. We can do that. Hopefully, everybody thinks the same way.
He concluded that with a sobering, “And that’s impossible.”
Bassitt said he didn't know if an organization could do a better job than the one being done by Oakland. And he said players around baseball need to improve off-the-field habits and adhere to protocols.
"I can't talk about every other team," he said. "But if every other team did as well as Oakland's doing, we'd be really freaking well off," Bassitt said. I mean, you're hearing sotries about guys not being smart and running around and that kind of thing.
"I mean, that's got to stop. It has to stop."
Manager Bob Melvin said that the team’s first foray outside the Bay Area to Seattle has underscored just how unusual this season is.
“It’s definitely a different feeling on the road, for sure,” Melvin said. “I mean the minute that we got on the road, it felt different. And as you know, a lot of the (coronavirus testing) positive were popping up with teams on the road, so it got our attention. We were insulated and at home for such a long period of time and our protocol has been good.
“And then you go into a different environment, and it gets you r attention. It just makes you want to be more aware, if that’s possible.”
Manfred, who issued a warning Friday that he might have to shut baseball down if coronavirus outbreaks couldn’t be contained was more upbeat Saturday.
Talking with ESPN, Manfred said his confidence in the season going forward is high, saying “there is no reason to quit now.” Coronavirus positive testing has led to the postponement of 17 games in 10 days through Sunday.
“We are playing,” Manfred told ESPN. “The players need to be better, but I am not a quitter in general, and there is no reason to quit now. We have had to be fluid, but it is manageable.”
Manfred accepts the reality that not all of the 30 teams will play the full 60 games. He said that playoff berths will be chosen on winning percentage.
“We’ve got to be flexible on that,” Manfred told the Associated Press. “Look, this is one of the reasons that we revisited the issue of the expanded playoffs. If it turns out that some guys play 60, some guys play 58, they have this new thing called winning percentage. We can sort that out.”
Games postponed to date:
· Marlins-Orioles four-game home-and-home series (July 27-30)
· Yankees-Phillies four-game home-and-home series (July 27-30)
· Marlins-Nationals three-game series (July 31-Aug. 2)
· Phillies-Blue Jays three-game series (July 31-Aug. 2)
· Brewers-Cardinals three game series (July 31-Aug. 2)
The Marlins are set to return to the field Tuesday against the Orioles, and the Phillies will return on Monday vs. the Yankees.
Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3
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