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SnakePit Round Table: Come to sunny Arizona

Could the Cactus League help salvage the 2020 season?

MLB Considers Arizona Minor League Stadiums For Possible 2020 Season Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

So how’s it going?

Makakilo: Recently, I’m strongly optimistic. I feel great. Appearances can deceive. It appeared social interaction would be a challenge worse than an astronaut going to Mars. Instead people embraced the new reality and went the extra mile to make safe interactions possible. People found different ways to interact like google hang-outs, and group text-messaging. And my phone conversations are longer and better than my old-reality face-to-face conversations.

Michael: Holding in there okay although I’ve spent most of the time just being cooped up in the house.

Wesley: After a really rough patch in my life, things are getting better for me. My mother, who’s had four hip surgeries and five dislocation since September of last year, hopefully won’t need another hip surgery after she comes on Monday.

Jack: Emotional and psychological state a bit uneven at times, but hanging in there. My son’s family in Vietnam all tested negative and are out of Quarantine after being locked in their apartment for 14 days. Everyone in our immediate family is healthy. My cousin in Michigan, a nurse, tested positive and is in quarantine at home. Extremely worried about my mom. She’s a sitting duck in her group assisted living Long Term Care home. They are great there, keep the place very clean, and there are just 10 residents. But anyone who has an elder in assisted living knows the fear and loneliness they face. Below is data from Maricopa County, and we have not been nearly as hard hit as other parts of the country….yet.

ISH95: After a bit of a roller coaster of a week, it looks like I’ll have a paycheck for the foreseeable future, and my wife should have one for at least the next couple months, so that’s good. Other than that, I’ve been enjoying the general peace and quiet. I’m self isolating as much as possible when I’m not at work, so being freed of society has actually been really good for my mental health.

James: My life is a bit of a circus right now. I am the only person out of five in my household (two children) who is accustomed to all this staying indoors. Over the last week, our neighborhood has collectively decided that they have had enough of the social distancing phase of all this. Life is almost completely back to “normal” around here as a result. As a person with respiratory issues and a ton of family with such said issues, this return to normal feels entirely premature, especially given what we know about the numbers of asymptomatic cases out there. Despite all that, my anxiety issues have little at all to do with the coronavirus. As the deadline approaches this coming week, I continue to wait for word from the University of New Mexico about starting a new program there. I’m also looking at trying to buy a house soon and my attempts to purchase a guitar have so far bore no fruit, but that is due mostly to lack of responses.

What have you been doing to fill the void of no baseball?

Makakilo: This week I watched the 2018 version of Peter Rabbit – I laughed a lot and the birds had wit and wisdom. I subscribed to Brit Box. Inspector Morse is a favorite.

Twice a week I visit the Urban Garden Center to feed and water vermi-compost worms. The worms would be happy to see me, but they have no eyes! In my glove box is a letter from a Dean of the University of Hawaii saying I am doing an essential activity.

Fully masked, I braved two adventurous shopping trips to Costco. Each time, I stood in line outside Costco for 1.5 hours plus. My reward included bags of oranges!

I purchased a web-cam on Amazon. It was a “best seller” and “ships in 3-5 business days.” I failed to perceive reality. “We are writing to let you know that shipment of the following order has not been confirmed by the seller within the expected timeframe:” Adding context to that statement: expected arrival is between 24 April to 15 May.

Michael: I’ve been mostly splitting time between checking MLB Trade Rumors to see if anything pops up on the baseball front, putting together my list of NFL Draft prospects for the Patriots, live-streaming video games (I’ve been looking at The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past/Super Metroid combo randomizers in addition to my Castlevania stuff), and participating in charity speedrun marathons.

On other notes, I’ve been religiously checking both my email accounts every day. I’m not sure

Wesley: Aside from taking care of my Mom’s house and dogs, I’ve been working out, dieting, writing, and working on fully launching my business. I’m also learning how to day trade. Using this as an opportunity to really make the last push to get my life where I want it to be. Staying busy basically.

Jack: In addition to the things we’ve been doing for the last month, (exercise, gardening, reading, tweeting, watching t.v.) I started reading to my grandchildren every night via face-time. That is a lot of fun and rewarding for all of us.

ISH95: For me, I haven’t been able to devote much time to baseball for a couple seasons now. I generally work through the games, and we gave up our season tickets before last season. For me, it’s more of a brain power gap, mental capacity that normally would be devoted to following every Dbacks box score and rumor. A good chunk of that has been redirected to problem solving related to issues that are arising from the pandemic, but the rest of it, I’m not really filling. Just enjoying one less thing to focus on.

James: Other than doing daily entries of the Snake Pit Simulated Season, I have been watching more movies with my kids. I have also started making the smallest of dents in my stack of books to read. I really wish I was getting some writing doe. However, my current anxieties have pretty much put that sort of productivity to rest for the moment. Writing is just going to have to wait until I have more clarity on just what path forward my life is actually on.

Are you more optimistic or pessimistic about a 2020 season than two weeks ago?

Makakilo: I am more optimistic because 90% of Costco customers now wear masks (it was only 50% my first trip) and because the rate of new cases in the US may have leveled off (the 3-day average of new cases reported to CDC grew to 32,375 on 6 April, and leveled off to 32,468 on 10 April). I am sticking with my prediction of a half-season of baseball starting about 10 July.

Michael: About equally as optimistic and that probably won’t change until we hear something more substantive about a plan to return. They’re just throwing out ideas and working their way down from the craziest concepts to see how the public reacts.

Wesley: the longer the season goes without play, the more I’m becoming pessimistic.

Jack: About the same. I think they really want to try, but I just can’t see a safe way forward without comprehensive testing available, and even that might not be enough.

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ISH95: about the same. I’d be shocked if we get baseball at this point. I’m hopeful, but not optimistic.

James: I’m probably in the same boat as Jack and Blake. I see all the different angles that MLB is working and am convinced that, if there is a way to play, they will find it. What I remain entirely unconvinced of is that we find a way forward with any of those plans before it becomes too late to have a 2020 season. It’s going to take quite a few dominoes toppling in the direction of the good for MLB to get the blessings of the medical community beyond Dr. Fauci and for MLB to then get a season up and going.

What do you think about the idea to play the entire season in Arizona/Florida?

Makakilo: Great idea. It will reduce the chances of players becoming infected. Only by keeping the players healthy can this season happen.

For the idea to be realistic, it must happen after the peak of the pandemic because 100% isolation of teams/families is impossible.

Michael: There are too many questions I need answered before I can give my best opinion:

  1. Are teams going to be traveling between Arizona and Florida?
  2. How will Chase Field be utilized?
  3. How will MLB deal with Arizona summers with all the teams playing in outdoor weather?
  4. Will fans be allowed to attend MLB/MiLB games in some capacity?
  5. How will Minor League games work?

The fact we don’t have any details suggests one of two things: 1) they’re not serious about it or 2) they’re figuring it out as they go. I suspect 2 more than 1, but you never know.

Wesley: I have many of the same questions Michael has, and honestly I think there are just too many questions that are unanswered right now to say if it will work or not. Sounds great in theory but in reality I don’t know how doable it really is. I do find the idea more doable than the whole league playing the entire season here in Arizona though, but there are just so many questions about it. Nevermind just Arizona summers though, Florida is G-d awful in the summer with that humidity.

Jack: I think a lot of players are not going to be willing to leave their families behind in the middle of a Pandemic. Some will, but many won’t. I also think Florida’s new case count is on a fairly steep curve upwards right now, Arizona obviously much less so. The logistics around all this seem insurmountable to me.

ISH95: I think it’s a half baked plan that is a disaster waiting to happen, and I really can’t see the players agreeing to it, considering the requirements that would be placed on them, all for a prorated salary.

James: I think the plans are ambitious. I’m also unconvinced that these plans work. I do think that the plan splitting the leagues between Florida and Arizona makes more sense. At the same time though, Florida presents far more difficulties than Arizona does when it comes to trying to put something like that together. There are just far too many questions without the beginnings of an answer at this point to think that one of the two plans will actually be implemented and work. That said, ownership and players have little else to do right now than to try and work out some sort of solution. This is jobs and financial livelihoods on the line, what else are they going to do other than continue brainstorming until a piece of spaghetti sticks to the wall?

One plan has the D-backs in a division with the Athletics, Cubs, Giants and Rockies. Do you like that idea?

Makakilo: I like it for two reasons:

  • Dodgers are not in the D-backs’ Division.
  • For me, it reduces the number of blacked-out games in the D-backs’ Division. Blacked out teams would be Giants and Athletics instead of Giants, Dodgers, and Padres.

Michael: When I first read that comment, I thought there was going to be an actual division realignment instead of accounting for the location of their Spring facilities. If this is only in case the teams play in their Spring Training facilities, I can see it happening. I’m not sure what will happen with Chase Field in this proposal, but most likely the D-backs will have to play at SRF for the sake of fairness since the other 14 Cactus League teams aren’t playing in their home ballpark.

Wesley: Yes, no Dodgers. I’m all for that.

Jack: Wish we could swap out the Cubs for the Angels, see more of Mike Trout, assuming he doesn’t get hurt again.

ISH95: Sure, why not lol The season and champion will already have an inevitable asterisk next to it, let’s make it as weird as possible

James: Despite growing up an avid Cubs fan, I am fully prepared to let someone else have the pleasure of Cubs in their division. Give me the Angels, they still play in the east valley. The best thing about the AZ/FL plan is that the Dodgers will be in Florida.

Your worst phobia just killed you, how did you die?

Makakilo: My worst phobia is dying of Alzheimers. It’s not my death as much as years of remembering less and less, years of decreasing mental abilities, and years of increasing burden on others.

Michael: Spiders

Wesley: I have a tremendous fear of living and growing old, so I’m not sure how this would work.

Jack: When I was a little kid I was terribly frightened of large Suspension Bridges. I think I saw them as Giant Monsters that were going to step on me and crush me or something, not sure. Growing up on Long Island, you can’t avoid frequent travel over New York area suspension bridges. I used to hide under the back seat when we drove over them. (Pre seat belt laws) Now I think they’re beautiful, and love driving over them when I’m back in NY, although down deep there may still be a twinge of primal fear, sort of like riding on a roller coaster.

ISH95: I don’t know. I don’t really have any phobias that come to mind

James: I’m similar to Makakilo. Likely one of the only things that I honestly think instills fear in me is losing my mind. Alzheimers is something I will indeed have to be careful of, given some family history. Given that my mind is my favorite personal attribute, it does worry me that I could lose it.