With each passing day, we get further away from seeing Boston Red Sox baseball in 2020, but the MLB’s latest rumored plan may be the wildest one yet.
If we remember the 2020 season for anything, it may be for all of the wacky and wild rumors that are coming out of the league office. As far as the Red Sox are concerned, we may remember this season as just a bad memory, especially after the nightmare of an offseason we witnessed. Well, we may be heading for another crazy chapter in the story of baseball in 2020.
By this point, we’ve heard about the possibility of starting the season in Arizona and lumping all of the league together. Then it was reported that we could see the league broken up to represent the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues, similar to spring training. I’m not a fan of either of those plans as they feel forced and downright reckless considering the coronavirus is still running wild throughout the country. But the latest rumor made my head hurt the moment I saw it.
MassLive’s Chris Cotillo reported an interview between ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian and Scott Van Pelt from Sportscenter this week, and the rumors are insane. Kurkjian told SVP that he had gotten word from a source that the league is eyeing Japan as a home for the 2020 season. As if splitting the league between Florida and Arizona wasn’t crazy enough, let’s just ship everyone overseas!
I just can’t wrap my head around that this is an idea that would even be spoken into existence. Even if there is zero plan to execute the idea of playing overseas, Kurkjian’s report has enough meat on the bone that it feels like it was more than just a passing thought. There wouldn’t be as much detail if this wasn’t something the league had on their big whiteboard of ideas for 2020.
"“I had a guy call me maybe two weeks ago,” Kurkjian said. “He said, ‘Here’s what’s going to happen. We’re going to play in Japan. The Japanese league is going to get through this faster than America is going to get through it. The Japanese League is going to play at night and the Major Leagues are going to play during the day in Japanese stadiums. That’s how we’re going to get this thing started.’"
The fact that they would try and split the stadiums with the Japanese League and run multiple games in a day is wild to me. Not only would they be putting players and staff at a high level of risk with the travel to Japan, but they’d also be risking the health of those already in the country by bringing in people from America, which now has the most confirmed deaths due to the virus.
It doesn’t matter which news network, newspaper, or internet source you follow, we don’t know enough about COVID-19 to begin entertaining the idea of this kind of travel. To think that moving the entire league to another country and having everyone mingle is a good idea is just baffling to me.
"“I couldn’t even report it, it was so ridiculous,” Kurkjian continued. “And yet, in the end, I think something ridiculous is how we’re going to play the season if we play the season.”"
My favorite part of the interview is that Kurkjian felt the idea was so crazy that he couldn’t even report it with confidence. He follows that up with something that I believe we’re all thinking deep down inside. The league is going to get so desperate that they’re going to rush into something that will not be the most well thought out plan.
I want to see baseball more than anything in 2020, my tickets are purchased and I’m ready to see the Red Sox do their thing at Fenway. But I don’t want to see the season played out in a way that risks the health of everyone involved. And at this point, I can’t imagine the social distancing mandates being lifted anytime in the near future.
In my opinion, the season should be canceled at this point and the teams should be allowed to get a head start on their plans for next winter.
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As far as the Red Sox are concerned, they have a slew of issues they need to address ahead of the 2021 season and will need as much time as possible. If there isn’t any baseball this year then we may have seen Jackie Bradley Jr. and J.D. Martinez play their last games in a Red Sox uniform. JBJ will be a free agent come next winter and J.D. has another opportunity to opt-out for free agency.
I can’t begin to imagine how the league would handle fully canceling the season. They’ve already put measures in place to counter the delay of the season but a full cancelation would create a new headache. The Red Sox also have the impending investigation punishment looming over their heads, whenever MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred gets around to it.
We’re in some wild times Red Sox Nation and it’s impossible to know when we may get back to anything resembling normal. With the rumors swirling around the league this week even if we do get baseball in 2020, it surely won’t feel familiar to what we’ve known. Only time will tell what will happen but hopefully whatever the MLB comes up with will have the best interests of the players and fans in minds, and not the owners’ wallets.