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The Pre-Season Rookie's League

March 25, 2020
                                      The Pre-Season Rookie’s League


            At some point, we are going to have to begin breaking out of our shells, right?   Well, here’s a plan. 

            Suppose that ESPN puts up a pool of money; I’m suggesting $2.1 million.   Each major league team chooses four players who would qualify as rookies in 2020, and who they expect to be in the major leagues at some point in 2020.   120 players.   Those 120 players report to some place in Arizona, some remote place, where they are all checked for COVID-19 and all cleared; if any player is not cleared, he is put into quarantine immediately, and the team sends somebody else. 

            So you’ve got 120 players, and 5 managers and some reasonable number of coaches, let’s say 10, and a trainer.  The Five Managers choose up teams.   We’ve got five 24-man teams, with one manager and two coaches per team.   Then they start playing games.

            They play two games a day, one starting at 4 PM Eastern, the other at 7 PM Eastern.   The games must be briskly played; no messing around, no wasting time.    Let’s say you put a two-hour time limit on each game; if the game is still going on after two hours it goes in the record books either as a tie, or else the team which is ahead after two hours is declared the winner, at the discretion of the umpires.   If the team which is behind is judged to have slowed the game down to hope for a tie, obviously they lose; if the team which is ahead is judged to have slowed the game down, then it is declared a tie.  You can play a baseball game in two hours if you try; it isn’t a big issue.

            So each team has a day off one day in five, and plays a game four days in five.   You have a 24-game schedule for each team, over the course of 30 days.

            Of course, the players, coaches, managers, umpires, clubhouse personnel, broadcast staff and field crew have to live in isolation for the 30 days.   We’re all in isolation anyway; it doesn’t seem like a tremendous hardship.  They are re-checked for the virus regularly, and, since they are only interacting with other people who are known to be virus-free, no going to the grocery store or anything, they should be able to remain in a virus-free bubble.  

            No fans, no audience, no agents allowed, no scouts allowed; nobody can break into the bubble for 30 days.  If we’re fortunate enough to re-start spring training within the 30 days, those players are committed to finish our their league. 

Each player, coach, and umpire is guaranteed $8,000 for the month.   With 120 players, 15 coaches and a staff of six umpires, that’s 141 X $8,000, or 1.128 million.   All members of the winning team are guaranteed a $5,000 bonus; the second-place team, $2,000, and the third-place team, $1,000.  That’s another $196,000, which makes 1.324 million; about $800,000 left for other expenses.   The teams are responsible for any expenses that go beyond that, equally shared by all teams.  Somebody has to bring these guys’ groceries, and otherwise not interact with them; somebody has to make sure they have basic needs covered, and they’ll need to take over a hotel with at least 150 rooms.   Regular testing. 

ESPN has two games a day to broadcast, while nobody else has ANY sports to broadcast, so the ratings should be OK.   Any reason this won’t work?  


COMMENTS (8 Comments, most recent shown first)

Rex, probably more contageous people are asymptomatic than not. That is as much a part of this as the ease of transmission... no one is isolated enough to be truly safe from exposure; the idea is to slow the spread, not stop it.

So, no, the players cannot safely resume spring training; they are young and healthy and very few of them will show symptoms-- but the coaches, the umpires, the club house attendants, they would be placed at risk.
10:58 AM Mar 29th
I don't see why we can't just resume normal Spring Training. All the players have been isolated long enough that if any of them had the virus, he'd be showing symptoms by now. If they're in close quarters only with each other, they won't spread anything. Games can be played with no fans in attendance, and televised; the TV people don't have to come anywhere near the players, or each other for that matter.

Perhaps the stands needn't be completely empty. A handful of tickets, in widely separated seats, could be sold for several thousand dollars apiece, proceeds to be donated to virus relief efforts of whatever kind.

There must be a flaw in my reasoning somewhere, or this would already be happening. Someone please set me straight.

10:52 PM Mar 26th
Reason it wouldn't work: the currently Major League team would not allow their personel to risk injury, but you meant other than that?
2:18 PM Mar 26th
Lets' just move up the virtual player plans.

We alrready got the robot umpires.

And then, the virtual play by play. Can't wait for that one.
4:11 AM Mar 26th
All good except for one detail: What if one team sends 5 pitchers, and all of them are short innings guys? In other words, how do we make sure that there are enough players to fill 24 POSITIONS on 5 teams? And then what happens if there are injuries? Say, the catching prospect for the Angels (heaven forbid). The logical play would be to go back to LA and ask them to supply another player. But what if their next best prospect was a left fielder?
3:31 AM Mar 26th
Like the baseball idea. And with other sports on ESPN would do real well. 2 games to broadcast and then the rest of the time for ESPN talk shows to discuss the games. Those of us in 'hiding' would also get to watch live sports. It would even give Sports Betting a boost.
5:12 PM Mar 25th
Sounds good, I am also pushing the idea of Robot Football with the robots controlled by players with video game controls. No concussion worries.
Oh, and the quarterbacks would be human, they would be protected by the !st Law of Robotics. Investment opportunities available....

5:08 PM Mar 25th
I like it! There might be a lot of reasons it wouldn't work. But I hope not. I like it.
4:58 PM Mar 25th
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