Buster Olney's skepticism should be a concern

Bill Shanks

Monday morning I was listening to "Golic & Wingo" on our radio station, Middle Georgia's ESPN. They replayed an interview with ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney.

Olney was asked what he thought the odds were that a baseball season is finished in 2020 and a champion is crowned. 

"Zero percent," Olney replied.

Then he was asked what the odds are that the 2020 baseball season is played as planned.

"Five percent," Olney said.

Wow. That is a concern. You can scoff at this. You can say this is a conspiracy. You can laugh this off. But it is what it is, a situation that will take everything to fall into place perfectly for it to happen as planned.

I then told a member of the Braves organization about Olney's comments. Truthfully, they were not surprised. Just about everyone in a position of power with a team is having zoom meetings with others who have the same job with other teams. That same skepticism is growing, even as players slowly trickle in to begin the testing process.

The tests are substantial. They include a blood test and a saliva test. It usually takes around 20 minutes for the entire process. Then, players have to wait 24-48 hours for the results, and that's after the tests reach the facility in Utah conducting the tests.

There are 1800 players - 60 players on 30 teams - who must be tested. Let's assume there are about 50 coaches and staff members who also must be tested. That's another 1500. So if 3300 people are tested, how many positive results would be a problem?

If 10% of the 3300 people test positive, is that enough to put the season in jeopardy? What would that percentage have to be for the season to be cancelled?

And then there is what is happening in the society that has to be considered. We see positive tests are increasing in many states. In Georgia, the numbers are out of control. For the last seven days, the average number of new positive tests in Georgia has been 1787, and they are setting new records every day it seems.

It's my opinion that baseball made a huge mistake not having the game resume at the spring training sites. When that idea was floated several months ago, it seemed like the perfect solutation.

The travel would have been limited to where the players could drive themselves to the ballparks. Sure, we would have had a Grapefruit League and Cactus League instead of the National and American Leagues for a year, but who cares. The lack of travel and the potential of more of a bubble situation would have possibly worked compared to the plan they went with.

Each team would have had plenty of space, plenty of fields, etc. The lighting might have been an issue for night games. No doubt. And that was a problem for the Braves at their new facility in North Port in March. But the plusses seem to have outweighed the negatives.

Regardless, they've picked this plan and now have to make it work. There will be travel, even though it won't be for long distances. And the owners demanded to have the games in their own stadiums, probably with the small chance things would get better and they would have had the chance to invite fans to come into the parks.

That won't happen, and if they don't watch out, the entire season won't happen, either.

Let's see how the numbers go this week for the players and staff. Maybe it'll be lower than expected, and maybe fans will realize the importance of wearing masks so the numbers in our states will decrease, as well.

If not, it'll be more taped games from the 1970s that we'll be stuck with for the forseable future.

And no one wants that.

 Listen to The Bill Shanks Show weekdays at 3:00 p.m. ET on Middle Georgia’s ESPN. You can listen online at TheSuperStations.com. Follow Bill on Twitter at @billshanks and you can email him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

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