MLB's wild, misguided plan to restart in May

We all miss baseball. But public health needs to come before profits.

Mike Trout.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Getty Images)

J.D. Martinez steps into the box and taps the plate with his bat. It's the top of the seventh, the final inning in the second half of a doubleheader in Phoenix, and the Boston Red Sox are down one run against the New York Yankees. You're watching at home on TV, so you can't feel it for yourself, but the late-afternoon sun has brought the temperature on the field to 101 degrees. Yankees reliever Zack Britton's first pitch gets away from him; it's a ball, says the electronic signal sent to the umpire standing 10 or so feet behind home plate. On the next pitch, Martinez makes contact — the homer clears the fence, landing in the empty lawn behind Salt River Fields. Martinez loops the bases and exits directly into the nearly-empty stands, where his teammates are seated instead of in the dugout; no one greets him with high fives or playful smacks on the rear as he makes his way back to his spot. Back on the field, though it'd be a smart time for a visit from the pitching coach, no one approaches Britton on the mound.

In a month's time, this could potentially be what baseball looks like in America: vacant stands, abandoned dugouts, rules changes, and tense distancing measures to minimize contact between players. But hey, at least there'd be baseball — right? While nothing is certain yet, and MLB tersely stated Tuesday that "the health and safety of our employees, players, fans, and the public at large are paramount," ESPN's Jeff Passan credibly reported this week that the league and players' union are "increasingly focused" on starting the season "as early as May."

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Jeva Lange

Jeva Lange was the executive editor at She formerly served as The Week's deputy editor and culture critic. She is also a contributor to Screen Slate, and her writing has appeared in The New York Daily News, The Awl, Vice, and Gothamist, among other publications. Jeva lives in New York City. Follow her on Twitter.