With Major League Baseball and its players association arguing over when the season should start, one of the nation’s leading coronavirus experts weighed in about when play should end.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, doesn’t want to see baseball played beyond September this year.
Speaking with the Los Angeles Times, Fauci said Tuesday, “If the question is time, I would try to keep it in the core summer months and end it not with the way we play the World Series, until the end of October when it’s cold. I would avoid that.”
Numerous U.S. states, including many that are home to MLB teams, are seeing rises in COVID-19 cases.
“Even in warm weather, like in Arizona and California, we’re starting to see resurgences as we open up (after shelter-at-home periods),” Fauci told the Times. “But I think the chances of there being less of an issue in the end of July and all of August and September are much, much better than if you go into October.”
Fauci said avoiding October baseball would probably be advantageous, adding, “I’d have to underscore ‘probably.’ This virus is one that keeps fooling us. Under most circumstances -- but we don’t know for sure here -- viruses do better when the weather starts to get colder and people start spending more time inside, as opposed to outside. The community has a greater chance of getting infected.
“The likelihood is that, if you stick to the core summer months, you are better off, even though there is no guarantee. ... If you look at the kinds of things that could happen, there’s no guarantee of anything. You would want to do it at a time when there isn’t the overlap between influenza and the possibility of a fall second wave.”
Regarding whether baseball should consider admitting fans in stadiums for games, Fauci told the Times, “Unless you have a dramatic diminution in cases, I would feel comfortable in spaced seating, where you fill one-half or one-third or whatever it is of the stadium, and everybody is required to wear a mask in the stadium.”
Discussions about when and how the baseball season should proceed are all hypothetical at this point, as team owners and the players union are engaged in feisty battle over the finances of a restart plan.
The MLB Players Association announced over the weekend that it rejected management’s latest offer on the number of games and the pay rate, asking MLB to set the dates for a severely shortened schedule. MLB commissioner Rod Manfred fired back Monday by stating he wouldn’t institute a schedule due to the union’s “decision to end good-faith negotiations.”
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