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SnakePit Round Table: Coronavirus edition

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Well. That escalated quickly...

Who will the D-backs Draft? Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

What are your thoughts on the closure of baseball?

Michael: It sucks

ISH95: What Michael said.

Jack: A couple of days into this world without sports I found a lady sitting on my couch. Apparently she’s my wife. She seems nice.

James: I never like being without baseball to turn to, for any reason. It sucks. Also, it is necessary. It’s actually a bit embarrassing how long it took baseball to come around to pushing everything back. Frankly, I wish they would now get off this insistence on still having the full season and postseason in 2020. Put a great big, bolded, double-asterisk in the record books and then play only 125-140 games (depending on how late the season starts). Come late-November and early-December, round two of this (hopefully complete with a vaccine) will be on the doorstep. Also, pitchers just don’t need to be trying to practice their craft when it is 48 degrees outside.

Makakilo: I see how baseball fits in the big picture. The big picture is that human health and lives are prioritized across all human endeavors.

One upside is that many people will spend more time alone, with increased awareness of their thoughts. One challenge could be to overcome new obstacles while battling negative emotions. One joy could be more opportunities to help and uplift people who are stressed.

Keegan: It’s taken a bit of an emotional and mental toll on me to be honest. Opening Day is better than any holiday for me. I suffer from a bit of seasonal depression in the offseason, so the start of a new season is like being born again. We’re at risk of losing a season of the greatest player of all time, Mike Trout, in the midst of his physical prime.

Jim: It has thrown my annual rhythm off. This would have been the sixteenth year in a row when the SnakePit would have been gearing up for a season, with all the hope and expectations that this bring. Now, there’s nothing but static, like TV tuned to a dead channel. It was certainly something that needed to happen though, and if it helps reduce the impact, it’s a sacrifice I’m happy to make.

Turambar: It’s very depressing. Spring Training and Opening Day are big events in my life and it feels like my favorite time of the year is…...gone.

Dano: Yep, it sucks and it spoils what is always one of the high points of my year. Opening Day has always been up there in national holiday territory for me. It’s for the best, but it still bums me out.

Steven: For the sport of baseball it is awful. Spring Training and Opening Day are arguably the biggest days of the year for the sport, so pushing that day back and now having to compete with other pseudo-Opening Days will hurt. For the real world application of the delay, it makes too much sense. With how old the average fan is for baseball, they’re the ones most at risk. I hope it shines a bright light on how awful this whole thing has been handled from our country.

Predict when Opening Day will actually occur

Michael: June 15th

ISH95: I think it will be by the end of May. If it’s much later than what Michael guesses, however, I think we might be looking at a canceled season, all together

Jack: Best case scenario, July 1. Worst case, season canceled. It really just depends on how effective are the measures our country is taking to blunt the spread and impact of Covid-19 and whether the citizenry can comply before it’s too late. My concerns about the lack of effectiveness to combat this are all over the site, and I’m sure many are sick of my long comments.

James: That depends on how successful the U.S. is at flattening the curve. My optimistic guess is in line with Michael, mid-June. I’ll pick June 12, since it is a Friday and that will help get as many people as possible to the delayed Opening Day. My more realistic side tells me that, with players now returning home, it’s going to take longer than that, simply because spring training is essentially going to need to start over. Jack might be on the money with July 1.

Makakilo: As an optimist, I see the glass is half-full. I predict a half-season, starting 10 July. Nevertheless, the games might be played in empty stadiums.

Keegan: Early June seems to be the most realistic.

Jim: Really hard to say. It depends on what the curve looks like here. A lower curve would be far better for health services, but that is also going to require limitations to be sustained for a longer period. So it’s not necessarily a bad thing if the season doesn’t restart until July, as that will imply the “flattening the curve” has been successful. I’ll say the All-Star break.

Turambar: I’ll guesstimate June, but honestly it could be July. We just don’t know what restrictions will be put in place or for how long. That and we have no clue how players and teams will get up to speed after being off the field for so long. Madness.

Dano: Given that it’s already going to be a substantial chunk of the season, and given that the nation (and the world) don’t seem to be even remotely close to having a handle on this, I would guess it will be fairly late. I think I’m with Jim….All-Star Break. Assuming we see any major league baseball at all this year, of course.

Steven: Middle of June is my guess. That’ll give players enough time to ramp up their training (although I suspect most will keep up their training regiments in private).

How will this impact the rest of the season?

Michael: 120 game season, which actually helps the D-backs try to stay close with the Dodgers and the rest of the NL for a playoff spot.

ISH95: It’s going to be nuts. I think you’ll see an incredibly active trade deadline, since few to any teams will be out of contention at any point in the season. Starters will only be going four to five innings tops, and bullpenning will take on a whole new meaning.

Jack: It’s very hard to speculate on specific ramifications, strategies, and outcomes without knowing just how big the impacts will be on our society over the next couple of months. One thing I was thinking about is whether they might completely redesign the abbreviated schedule, rather than just pick up wherever they are in the existing calendar. I’d prefer the redesign route.

James: Without knowing when games will actually resume, it is difficult to say. The longer this suspension of activities goes on, the more the season will morph from a marathon to a sprint. That could help a team like the Diamondbacks, since it will provide a smaller window for the Dodgers to run away with the division. On the other hand, it will make even minor injuries to starters have an out-sized impact - for any team.

Frankly, I think MLB needs to shorten the season significantly and then build an entirely new schedule. For ease of scheduling, the first thing to go could be interleague play. Taking those games out of the schedule will help with finding most of the games to be cut in a shortened season.

Makakilo: A half-season could result in surprise teams in the playoffs.

  • Schedules will be less balanced across all teams.
  • Luck will have a larger impact than it would for a longer season, especially with smaller differences in win-loss records.

Keegan: With a shortened season we could see some really strange things happen. There are always a handful of teams that play above or below expectations for a couple of months. We could see expected contenders miss the playoffs entirely at the hands of others coming out of nowhere.

Jim: One thing not touched upon by my colleagues, is the draft. The College World Series has already been canceled, and it’s quite possible there will be few if any meaningful college games between now and then, to allow for prospect evaluation. How that’s going to be handled is going to be very interesting. Delay it? Postpone it? We’ll have to see.

Turambar: We’ll win the World Series of course.

Dano: I’m thinking about James’s “great big, bolded, double-asterisk” above. Whoever winds up performing well will be very happy, a lot of teams/fans who wind up being disappointed will be like, “Well, it wasn’t a real season anyway.” Jim raises a good point….I have no idea what the draft will look like, if it happens at all. And yeah, of course we’ll win the “World Series”.

Steven: I have a feeling it’ll go on as normal, maybe with an abbreviated or canceled All-Star weekend or something in order to get as many games as possible in before the playoffs. The lockout shortened NBA season doesn’t have an asterisk anywhere, why would this?

What will you be doing to spend time, in the absence of the game?

Michael: Seeing how fast I can beat Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. Head over to twitch.tv/freeland1787 if you want to see me completely unhinged when the game starts being unfair. As for baseball content, I still will do the 2020 Draft coverage because that will happen eventually and we might as well know about potentially future D-backs. I’m not sure when I’ll hear back from Baseball America about my job application though, at this point I’m just assuming I didn’t make the cut (not that unusual since I’ve always been picked last).

ISH95: Work. No social distancing for me.

Jack: I might get around to completely overhauling my filing system and better organizing all my paperwork. I figure I better get my affairs in better order, just in case. At the same time, I’ve lost 82 pounds over the last year and am trying to take off 18 more. Now I’m working with weights and resistance bands trying to tone and tighten things up as best I can. I’ve never been “buff”, and never will be. But I need to add more muscle for both health and aesthetic reasons. Who knows...maybe by the time this is all over I emerge like the guy that came out of prison ripped and with six pack abs...lol

James: Reading, catching up on movies I have piling up, reading. Once May rolls around, I, like Michael, will be spending time putting together my pre-draft articles for the Pit. I too am still waiting to hear from Baseball America, though I am assuming that I am not a finalist. Although, given the current state of things, I would not be surprised if they are currently under a hiring freeze while they figure out what is still left to be covered. It is going to be a bit harder to do draft coverage this season given that the colleges and universities will not be playing this year. That is going to make getting a last (or in some cases, even a first) look at some of these prospects rather difficult.

Makakilo: It’s like an extended off-season - I will continue to write on the AZ Snake Pit. My continuing activities will include: yoga, meditation, and gardening. My new activities will include paint my garden gnome, take a sound bath, and maybe develop a sidewalk zumba routine.

Keegan: Hiking with my bros. We crushed 11 miles this morning. My employer closed down our gym, so that’s not an option. I’ll probably pick up the new Final Fantasy VII remake.

Jim: Watching far more movies. This year’s project, watching and writing about the entire genre output of Hammer Films from 1955 through 1976, is likely to get ahead of schedule in the coming weeks!

Turambar: Video games, movies and cooking shows.

Dano: Vastly increased media consumption, no doubt. I’d also like to put a dent in my Steam backlog. And of course more writing on other subjects.

I also have half a mind to get hold of a copy of the new OOTP and run a simulated 2020 season in spectator mode. Recap the games, maybe, or at least the Tuesday games. That would probably be kinda sad, though, wouldn’t it? Hmmm.

Steven: I actually just started my new job haha. I was handed a laptop first day and told to go home when it was finished setting up. It’s been very weird working from home after never doing it at all over all my previous jobs.

What impact has the Coronavirus had on you and your life personally?

Michael: Other than the shutdown of sports and Jack’s warnings on Twitter prior to it, not much.

ISH95: Made my job very interesting. As a restaurant manager, I’ve been getting daily updates from corporate on our response, changes in cleaning habits, and, honestly, anticipating a shut down.

Jack: The impacts are large and going to get much much larger. Personally, I went to China on January 2nd to set up a consortium of footwear material suppliers to sell and market their products to footwear brands here in the United States. (Recycled sustainable materials, leathers, wovens, things like that), The idea is to get them to put our supplier’s name in the spec sheet and be the designated supplier. (Many materials are “open sourced”) I came back on January 15th having signed the deals. Almost immediately, things spiraled out of control in China, everything got shut down, and they are just now opening up manufacturing at 50% capacity or less. Trade shows I was supposed to attend got canceled, and now I can’t travel domestically for sales calls. We are trying to press forward, but obviously I’m not going to be making any money on this in 2020. (Lead times, shipments, payments are 6-12 months)

My middle son lives in China with his wife and two kids. He also works in the footwear industry, heading up production and development in Asia for a US Branded importer. He was visiting here with my grandson during Chinese New Year from January 17-26. His wife and daughter were visiting her family in the Philippines. They have an apartment in Dongguan China with all their stuff in it, and a cute little dog that a friend is looking after. When he flew back on Jan 26th, he couldn’t go back to China, as if he had, he couldn’t get back out, due to travel bans. So he transited in Hong Kong and went to Manila to reunite with his wife and daughter. They stayed there 2 weeks, then went to Ho Chih Min City in Vietnam. Their company also has some limited manufacturing there. But the factories there couldn’t re start for a long time either because many of their components come from China. He is under tremendous pressure to get goods out from his company’s home office, who is not truly understanding the depth of the problem. He is not feeling good about his job security. It’s not a large brand, and they probably don’t have the financial resources to get through this without cutbacks.

His wife is pregnant, and is due to have their 3rd child in June. She was going to go back to Manila to have the baby where her mom could help take care of her. But Manila was just shut down too. They don’t know what they are going to do, and we are all just praying and hoping there is not a serious outbreak in Vietnam.

Oh, and of course I stopped covering ballgames and going to stadiums about a week before they shut down spring training.

James: For the most part, this has just been inconvenient. The recent measures mean that now, I am home with two kids and a spouse every day for two weeks. We are all going to drive each other nuts. Two of us are extreme introverts, being kept in a small space with others is never fun. It is even less fun when it is someone who, through natural causes, can sometimes get under the skin - as family is wont to do. Currently, I am engaging in as much social distancing as possible. My son had all the symptoms imaginable for about a week and then kicked whatever it was he had. As he was never tested, it simply remains a non-zero chance he came down with CORVID-19.

During that same window, I was in an extended meeting with someone who, a few days later, contacted me to let me know that he and three of his family had tested presumptive positive after he got home. Between my kid’s condition and my spending time with that gentleman, I am working under the assumption that I have been exposed. In order to make sure I don’t transmit anything, even though I am not showing symptoms, I am mostly staying sequestered in the bedroom. Good thing I have a PC and a small bookshelf in here. Otherwise, I would be going nuts.

Makakilo: Five impacts:

  • My volunteering is curtailed. For example answering plant questions at a local farmer’s market is on-hold.
  • I anticipate my gym will suspend yoga, aqua, and Zumba classes (but until it does I will enjoy them).
  • I thought I would never see Costco’s huge parking lot full – this week it happened as people were panic-buying food and supplies.
  • I discovered opportunities to help/uplift people are common in stressful situations.
  • My plans to travel are on-hold until next year. This year, my intention to attend a D-back playoff game is iffy.

Keegan: A decrease in Americans traveling would have a direct impact on my job. We’ll obviously be canceling our trip to Atlanta scheduled for the end of May because of the season postponement. We were planning on going to the D’backs-Braves series. I’m now severely limited in what I can make for dinner not realizing how often I use onion and green pepper. I didn’t go out and panic buy because I’m a responsible person. Joke is on me.

Jim: My trip to Scotland at the end of the month won’t be happening. Nor the trip to Tucson for the WBC Qualifiers next weekend. Various concerts and other events have been cancelled. Work looks highly likely to be sending me to work remotely in the coming days, so I’ll basically be becoming a shut-in, leaving the house only for supplies. I am surprisingly fine with this for now, but suspect the novelty will soon wear off.

Turambar: I’m a hotel sales manager, so my work is pretty much nonexistent. Toast. We saw hundreds of thousands in room revenue simply disappear last week with cancellations, and bookings have ceased almost completely. That though is nothing compared to the very real prospect of having to postpone my wedding or cancel it entirely (4/4). My fiancée and I have worked so hard to make it happen, and this crisis has quite simply forced our hands. Nothing we can do. At. All.

Dano: Relatively little, thankfully. So I can just watch the ongoing freakout with a sort of detached bemusement, and ponder the timeless existential question of why people are so determined to stockpile toilet paper of all things.

Steven: It mostly gives me a valid excuse to stay cooped up in my apartment :)

Fast-forward five years. How do you think this will be remembered?

Michael: The disease that temporarily shut down baseball.

ISH95: Five years from now we will still be feeling the effects. The stock market is going to take time to recover, supply chains will need to be rebuilt, and that’s not even getting into the potential loss of life and long term effects that some scientists are starting to report.

Jack: The disease that shook America to it’s very core and threatened the existence of our Republic as we know it.

James: I think that depends on the next two weeks or so. On the mild end, it’s going to go down as the disease that essentially shut down the entire world for a month. On the extreme, everything goes wrong side, it will be the disease that re-shapes countries and especially how the U.S. operates in the future. With today’s technology, the chances of it reaching Spanish Flu-level proportions is incredibly slim. So, there is at least that silver lining.

Makakilo: When two black swans (pandemic and oil price reduction) caused a liquidity crunch, the forward-looking markets fell with spikes in volatility. The Federal Reserve injected trillions of dollars to prevent collapse. Amid the national pandemic emergency, the human spirit was strengthened by adversity. And from the chaos, better lifestyles slowly emerged. Baseball emerged as better than ever.

Keegan: I hope we’d grow and improve as a species and society. The response time has been entirely too slow and the public’s reaction has been irrationally driven by fear. Nobody has a plan. The spread of misinformation has created a lot of problems. Price gouging hoarders need to be prosecuted. Grocers need to place a limit on the amount of items that can be purchased. Our healthcare system is woefully inadequate. In five years, I’d like to see this as a turning point where the world improved for the best.

Jim: It’ll be this generation’s 9/11, the event which literally changed the world for us. Those who went through it will always remember where they were and what they did. It may even be this century’s World War II as far as America is concerned, which killed about 0.3% of the US population. That would take about a million deaths, which is not inconceivable. Here’s hoping it just doesn’t reach Civil War levels (2% killed).

Dano: I’m actually inclined to think that it will be seen as a manifestation of widespread apocalyptic anxieties finding something to attach themselves to. In the United States, anyway, I don’t think this is anything like an extinction-level event, and yet we seem to be limping toward treating it as such. It’s going to be remembered as a very, very costly disruption of our public life and the economic mechanisms that support our public life, and while the disease itself will wind up more or less forgotten (like SARS, and bird flu, and so forth), but the consequences of the half-assed but comprehensive “response” will still be felt.

Steven: Like I mentioned early, I hope it shines a bright light on our nation’s inability to function under the current circumstances.