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Scott Boras is one of those rare forces of nature, such that mountains move when he wants something to happen. He wrote an op/ed in the New York Times this week — I highly recommend reading the whole thing — about why Spring Training should re-commence soon, and then appeared on ESPN’s Get Up this morning to discuss it. Obviously, Boras is self-interested. The whole chain of players (many of whom Boras represents), owners, and the sports TV business will have drastic aftershocks if live sports do not return. Nonetheless, in his self interest he makes some valid points.
Boras was asked by Mike Greenberg how players balance their desire to resume baseball with their safety concerns:
Scott Boras says that people of MLB Players’ age and physical condition carry much less risk for dire coronavirus outcomes, as do the states (Florida and Arizona) where Spring Training will be held. pic.twitter.com/cQzOgezMol
— Ryan Glasspiegel (@sportsrapport) May 6, 2020
“One thing we know is this virus has a clear impact; it’s not going away,” Boras said. “It has a dramatic impact on those of higher ages and people with underlying medical conditions. Fortunately, the athletes of baseball, those parameters carry much, much less risk with this. We looked at the hospitalization rates of people of this age group without underlying medical conditions. We’ve looked at mortality rates, both where they’d play in Spring Training — in those states, one of the epidemiologists from UC-Berkeley pointed out about being locally observant and appropriate as to how we treat this virus. Certainly those in Florida and Arizona — and frankly in many states the mortality rates are much lower now than they are in the northeast — so when you look at that and the risk related to the players I think they’re much more comfortable now with returning.”
Later in the Get Up segment, Boras spoke about the need for an extended second Spring Training as the unique circumstances over the last 50 days mean that proper conditioning would be vital. He also mentioned the relationships, which in many cases are longstanding, that players have with their ball clubs’ trainers and physicians. Greenberg asked about if players would be okay with quarantine, and Boras danced around that a little bit saying that the representative feeling of the ones that he represents is that they’d be alright with being away from their families for the new Spring Training. He did not really address what the case would be if that’s a prerequisite for starting the regular season.
We are rapidly approaching the time where decisions have to be made with MLB and NBA. If I were a betting man, I’d wager that MLB is back in July. I’d also bet that the NBA playoffs happen in July or August, but I’d be a bit less confident in that position.