Boston Red Sox legend Dennis Eckersley is one of the most outspoken players in history, and he’s got some thoughts on the MLB’s safety proposal for 2020.
Over the course of the COVID-19 fueled MLB shutdown we’ve heard from a handful of folks about how the league can get things going again. One of the more outspoken former players to speak on the matter has been Red Sox legend Dennis Eckersley.
The veteran righty has made the media rounds and has been asked about every aspect of the shutdown, restart, and what a 2020 season may look like. He’s spoken about how he wasn’t going to get too excited about a June start to the season as well as now placing just 50/50 odds on a season at all.
"“It’s going to take some doing,” Eckersley told host Emerson Lotzia. “This thing could blow up in their faces. I hate to say that, but it could. Don’t think they don’t know all the things that could happen. That’s one huge one that could stop it, too.”"
What Eckersely is referring to is not just the safety risks that go hand in hand with the coronavirus but also what the MLB wants to do in order to keep everyone protected. To do a summary of some of the lengths the league wants to go to for a 2020 season: No showering in the stadium, stay at home/hotel/stadium only, no high-fives, no spitting, and no sunflower seeds.
Obviously there’s more meat on this bone but these are some of the more interesting ones I saw, for lack of a better word.
If we know anything about baseball and those that choose to walk down this path in life, it’s that rituals and superstitions run supreme. Look no further than former Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra. You could be in kindergarten when he first stepped into the batter’s box and ready to graduate high school by the time the at-bat was complete. Keeping within rituals and keeping things as uniform as possible is incredibly important to many players for their success.
"“I was like, ‘What?’” Eckersley said of his reaction to the league’s proposal. “More than anything, I was like, ‘Good luck with that.’ That was my second thought. The more I read into it, on and on and on, it just seemed like, ‘Wow.’”"
The not showering in the stadium is something I don’t see as being a major issue for players, especially those lucky enough to be playing home games. Oddly enough it’s going to be the spit related bans that may cause the most uproar. We’ve all watched games and have seen the countless bags of sunflower seeds, gum, and yes, even dip, that some players go through in a game.
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When all is said and done, it’s on the players themselves to make sure this season happens. Beyond the money and labor dispute that currently has things at a standstill, they’re the ones on the field that need to uphold these new rules. If they truly want to get back on the field and play the game they love so much, they’ll need to stay within the boundaries set by the MLB.
I’m not sure what this year may bring as far as a season. It’s now Memorial Day weekend and the likelihood of getting something started seems less with each passing day. As much as I want to see some Red Sox baseball in 2020, I just don’t know if it’s in the cards right now.
"“There’s a lot of gray area there that they’re going to have to be on their Ps and Qs, the players,” he said. “It’s on them. I wouldn’t want to be the guy that messed it up.”"
I’m on the same page as Eck and that it really is 50/50 right now, and neither side wants to budge. I believe with other leagues beginning to return or at least release their plans to return, baseball will have its hand forced. For that to happen though, we need the players to realize these safety measures are with their best interest in mind, and the owners need to loosen their grip on some of that cash to make it an easier transition.