STL sports chat with Ben Frederickson

STL sports chat with Ben Frederickson

Bring your Cardinals, Blues and St. Louis sports questions, and talk to Post-Dispatch columnist Ben Frederickson in a live chat starting at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

    Greetings, chatters.
    First off, I hope everyone is safe and healthy, and that the same is true for your loved ones.
    St. Louis is in for a couple of scary weeks starting now.
    We will get through it, together.
    I imagine we are going to have lots of discussion today about the ESPN and Associated Press reports about the Arizona plan for bringing baseball back.
    Let's get into that, and wherever else you want to go.
    Oh, and one more thing.
    Thank God for flowers blooming and green grass and birds chirping.
    They must have known we needed them.
    While I would enjoy any type of baseball at this point, in the reporting about how they could start playing games with different rules and player safety measures, it mentions very high frequency testing. How would that look for MLB to be playing and testing players constantly with many medical outlets short on tests?
    A couple of things . . . 
    Testing doesn't necessarily mean the official coronavirus test.
    It means checking temperatures and potential warning signs of every person who shows up for games: players, umpires, coaches, etc.
    And in terms of the official tests, they are becoming more available and will continue to become more available as this process plays out, including ones with quicker turnarounds on results.
    One of the many holes that can be punched in the plan is what John Mozeliak acknowledged during that Zoom call last week -- that plans like this encounter a big problem the moment a player tests positive, and that problem is compounded by the fact we are seeing lots of examples of infected people showing zero signs of infection, including a lack of a fever.
    If that happens, the player gets quarantined, but who else? Everyone on his team? You can see how it could get shut down to the point of being useless pretty fast, right?
    Other concerns would be players agreeing to spend however long it took in self-imposed quarantined, away from their families, in order to play.
    It's also hot as heck in Arizona in the summer, like brutally hot. No one seems to be bringing that up.
    I'm all for kicking around ideas, and I want baseball back ASAP, but if you check out the statement the league released today, it seemed to distance itself a bit from the Arizona plan, and also distanced itself away from the report national health leaders are on board with the plan.
    Ok, the question of the day: your thoughts on the idea of playing the baseball season in Arizona without fans?
    There's nothing wrong with a discussion of ideas.
    Gives us something to talk about.
    I see a lot of snags in it.
    I also see a common motivation between both sides, players and owners.
    They want to get paid. Games make money. Never underestimate the power of the dollar.
    This Arizona plan isn't all that different from the thing I wondered about at spring training, before it was canceled.
    Send every team back to its spring training stadium. Shred the schedule. Play all of the games that were going to be played between Florida-based teams in Florida, and all of the games that were going to be played between Arizona-based teams in Arizona, then -- if it's still needed to play this warped way -- send half of the Arizona teams to Florida and play the rest of the games. No fans in the stands.
    Again, that doesn't answer for players having to be away from their families for however long it takes.
    Again, that doesn't answer for what happens when a player or coach or someone deemed essential inevitably gets the virus.
    A follow up. Re the AZ plan, how the heck would the manager and coaches be able to communicate effectively with the players if they are practicing social distancing?
    They wouldn't be practicing social distancing.
    That would be impossible.
    A catcher can't practice social distancing with a batter in front of him or an umpire behind him. I guess they could rush into the electronic strike zone, but in a season that would already include so much new, do they really want to add something like that?
    A guy gets on first base. The first baseman has to hold him on. Social distancing over.
    There are a million examples, including pitchers constantly touching their face, licking their fingers, etc.
    This would be more about dropping a bubble over the players and anyone else deemed essential to the games.
    They would do nothing but play baseball and mix amongst themselves in a hotel that was not open to outsiders, including family.
    Because if you open it to family, all bets are off unless that family never leaves the hotel and interacts with the outside world.
    You can see how this gets unlikely pretty fast.
    South Korea will be pointed to as a country that is trying to do something like this, but I would suggest reading into how South Korea handled the virus. Different countries. Different approaches. Take a drive by your nearest Home Depot parking lot to see an example.
    I saw that the NHL is the league that is expected to resume first (before the NBA and MLB). Do you agree with this? And why or why not? I don't see why the NHL or NBA would return before the other.
  • Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reported the NHL has discussed if it would be possible to play the remainder of the season in North Dakota.
    That's the latest I saw there.
    I'm not sure who said NHL is expected to be the first back, but I would think that the more physical contact a sport has -- and hockey has plenty -- the harder it's going to be until there is a significant drop in cases, a vaccine, or some sort of proven therapeutic treatment that is approved by medical officials for large-scale use.
    kind of hard to seeing baseball being played in empty ball parks without fans. Owners depend on the ticket sales for revenue. May just have to restart next year without most of the bad contracts off the books
    Some money is better than no money.
    Don't underestimate the amount of money that comes from broadcasts, or the demand for live sports at the moment, or the money that would be spent on advertising to be on those broadcasts.
    If baseball can find a way to play that gets the nod from health experts, baseball will be plaid in front of no fans for TV broadcasts.
    I've got zero doubts about that.
    I do have doubts about the ability to figure out a plan that gets the green light, and then doesn't get derailed by the virus when it begins to play out.
    Do you think this break in traditional sports is showing the value of esports in society? I think this might be a takeoff point for esports.
    Could be. The NBA players are doing televised games against one another. I've got no problem with video games. They're popular. I don't have much interest in watching people play them, but I also haven't done much playing of them. I think for people who play them, it's fun to watch people play them well -- kind of like it is for baseball fans who didn't make the majors, right? What I don't get is calling them sports. Video games are not sports. Virtual reality sports -- running a race in place in your living room? Maybe. But sitting on the coach with the controller? No. That's not a dig. Just a fact. Words matter.
    Ben,

    Another question if I may. Across the four major sports how long without income from their individual league before some teams can no longer afford to be in business? I'f think the NHL would be the first to contract to fewer teams.
    I don't see contraction happening in any of the major sports because of the pandemic. There are a lot of other places to cut first for teams. A lot. And if an owner in any sport got to the point where it was impossible to own the team, a long list of interested potential owners would be there to take over. That's one of the fears you can take off your list, I think.
    This whole games in Arizona starting next month is ridiculous and, if true, is just another example of Manfred being kind of a joke. Thoughts?
    Disagree.
    The powers at be have to discuss ideas and see what might and might not be possible.
    It's a moving target, so some ideas are going to seem bizarre.
    The whole situation is bizarre.
    It's hard for Manfred to make sense when nothing does.
    So here is my problem with the MLB/NBA/NHL/every other league wanting instant testing for their leagues - what happens if someone tests positive? When Rudy Gobert tested positive the whole league was suspended. Would the MLB suspend the whole league if a player tested positive? Because there is a high probability that it happens.
    Yeah, those concerns and questions are valid.
    If a two-week quarantine is still the recommended plan for anyone who comes in contact with someone who has coronavirus, then it's pretty hard to imagine how any of this would work.
    Is the whole team quarantined? The umpires who worked the recent game? The opposing team the guy just interacted with on the basepaths?
    You can see how it plays out.
    The best option would be to keep any player from testing positive in the first place.
    Building a plan around that seems like a good way for things to hit a wall when one does, but there are no perfect scenarios at the moment.
    Gut feeling, do you think the NBA and NHL playoffs will be played in 2020?
    My gut feeling means nothing. I don't know. Hard for me to see it happening, but hope it does.
    Sorry to not ask about baseball but which Mizzou football player do you expect to be drafted first in the NFL draft?
    Defensive lineman Jordan Elliott would be my first pick from the Mizzou pool.
    A team might fall in love with tight end Albert Okwuegbunam's size and speed, but I have questions about how ready he is for the league.
    Will baserunners have an advantage since fielders won't want to tag them to avoid catching the virus?
    No matter how weird the setting looks, baseball will turn into baseball as soon as the first pitch arrives.
    And, to be honest, that's probably part of the concern.
    At least it should be.
    Pitchers are going to lick their fingers before they throw a pitch.
    Players are going to share bats.
    Contact will happen.
    That's why the scenario would have to be less about players infecting one another, and more about players being in a bubble that kept all of them -- and anyone they interact with -- guarded from infection.
    Gonna need a big, strong bubble -- with full cooperation -- for this to even have a chance of working.
    The AZ Plan falls apart into absurdity
    Lots of plans do these days :)
    To clarify on the social distancing question, I understand it cannot happen on the field, but one of the reports said the players would have to sit in the stands six feet apart, which would be quite a sight. So there would not be any dug out, at least as we know it, according to this report.
  • I read that but don't understand it.
    If you're going to have players interacting on the field during play, what's the point of separating teammates for half-innings.
    Doesn't add up.
    I enjoyed your recent article covering Brad Underwood, was Alan Griffin's decision to transfer influenced by the realization that Dosunmu would be back and less playing time available?
    Thanks.
    I didn't get the impression from Underwood that Ayo Dosunmu has made any sort of decision. He wants to hear the feedback from the league first. It's going to be a very odd year for guys like Dosunmu, who will be navigating a draft evaluation process that could look drastically different. Will there even be a combine?
    I'm sure Griffin would have loved to know for sure what was coming back, and where he ranked on the list of now-eligible transfers and incoming freshmen.
    There are some whispers of Griffn's departure being related to some off-the-court stuff as well, but Underwood didn't go there and I don't have anything confirmed on that. That's often the case in situations like that -- sometimes it's more about something else than basketball.
    Is it fair to say MLS won't be unveiling their team name until after things have "returned to normal"? Were they planning on making it a big event? I feel a live stream is a fine idea.
    I've pursued an answer on that and will continue to, but have no good info for you at the moment. Sorry I can't be more helpful there.
    Compared to a year ago, how has your opinion on the XFL changed? The XFL as a whole and the XFL in St. Louis?
    I knew the initial splash in STL would be big, but had questions about how it would sustain. It seemed to do that pretty well, considering the biggest home game was going to be the third of the season, before it got canceled. That's one opinion that changed. I think the BattleHawks could have a nice, long run in St. Louis, but I'm still skeptical about the overall health of the league as a whole. Not every market bought in like St. Louis. Can't have BattleHawks without the XFL.
    Personally, I don’t understand the extreme measures taken for this epidemic. People of been dying from diseases for centuries. People dying is not an unusual event. Why don’t we ban car travel because look how safe it is when we aren’t running into each other.?
    I think you would probably feel differently if the virus threatened the life or killed someone close to you. I hope that doesn't happen, and I hope you consider doing everything possible to keep it from happening to someone else.
  • No sport relies more heavily on its minor league system than baseball. The Cardinals alone assigned at least 6 guys to AAA you could realistically expect to play a major role in the upcoming season. The Phoenix plan may protect guys on the 26 man roster, but it does nothing to reopen the player pipeline from the minors that every MLB team relies on. Even if baseball expanded rosters to the full 40-man, guys 27-40 wouldn't get the at-bats or innings to stay sharp, which would be especially problematic for pitchers who would be needed during all of the doubleheaders the league plans on playing. We can all applaud the MLB for thinking outside the box, but can you see baseball working without the minors running in tandem?
    You could play some degree of Major League Baseball without the minors being in motion, yes.
    Expanding the rosters as much as possible without creating unnecessary risk would be critical for the reasons you mentioned.
    Again, no plan is going to be perfect, and you've presented another big issue.
    I have a hard time seeing baseball working until we have a vaccine or proven therapeutic treatment for the virus, much more than I have a hard time seeing baseball working without the minors.
    I did not notice if the media would be able to cover the games in AZ, if they happen. I guess Commish or Derrick would have to write from their living rooms.
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