MLB plans to experiment with fans’ safety during pandemic postseason

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​Let’s travel back in time to June 8, 2020, for a moment, shall we?

According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, MLB is considering allowing local governments to decide if there will be fans at their games. In Texas, this would mean 50 percent capacity attendance, as governor Greg Abbott announced that would be allowed as of last week. This opens up the opportunity for MLB or its teams to pressure other local governments into allowing fans to attend games, which would be unsafe, but even if MLB’s hands are clean in this regard, that doesn’t make the existence of fans in the stands any safer. There is a reason these two sides are negotiating for how safe they can make a 2020 season — one that was never truly expected to include fans.

So, if this report is true, and MLB really is considering letting fans into their games in the states that are going to allow such a thing — the ones opening up before they should, the ones purposely messing with data to make the pandemic seem like less of a risk than it is, meaning the ones that are also going to be high-risk for further transmission because of a lack of precaution — then it’s even more clear than usual that MLB just cares about what kind of money they can make from 2020, and not the safety of anyone making or giving the money to them.

And now let’s look at an exclusive USA Today story from Tuesday:

Yet, the 2020 MLB season survived, and for the first time this season, Manfred divulged plans to have fans in the ballparks in October. They will be able to attend the National League Championship Series and World Series, which will be played in Arlington, Texas, pending final approval by Texas governmental officials.

“We are pressing ahead to have fans in Texas,’’ said Manfred, with a ticket sales announcement expected soon. “One of the most important things to our game is the presence of fans. Starting down the path of having fans in stadiums, and in a safe and risk-free environment, is very, very important to our game.’’

The 2020 season has mostly been successful, after MLB actually decided to enforce distancing protocols and players who were comfortable taking risks flaunting safety realized their irresponsible actions had consequences for themselves and others. The season has also been played without fans, and without the concessions workers that make games with fans happen: the lack of either of those groups helped mitigate transmission and outbreak risk. Now, instead of wrapping this campaign by continuing to minimize the risks, MLB has decided they’re going to experiment on real-life people in the stands during the last rounds of the postseason, because hey, there is some money to be made.

MLB isn’t the first to invite fans to their games mid-pandemic, of course. The NFL has been letting local governments decide if fans should be in attendance at games (which led to Kansas City Chiefs fans booing the “moment of equality” against racial injustice), for instance. The timing is curious for a couple of reasons, though. For one, as just stated, MLB is nearly through this pandemic-affected season without having had any major incidents for a while now. And yet, they’re going forward with another of what Rob Manfred loves to think of as experiments, except this one doesn’t just have the impact to mess with the feel of the game like seven-inning doubleheaders do. Fans and workers could end up sick from this, and for what? So the clubs can squeeze a few more dollars from 2020.

The second reason this timing is curious has to do with the Center for Disease Control bringing further clarity to the way coronavirus spreads to their public-facing notes just this week. The CDC published information stating that “respiratory droplets” in the air, not just from sneezing or coughing but just from the act of breathing, were the easiest way to spread coronavirus, and that those droplets could remain in the air for “a period of time.” Anyone who inhales those droplets afterward could very well be infected with coronavirus. The Rangers’ new stadium, by the way, has a retractable roof, so if it’s closed and air conditioned on a hot evening in Arlington, it’s an indoor space where these kinds of droplets can be circulated throughout the air. And since people take their masks off to eat, to drink, to talk, or just to be dumb-as-shit assholes who think the rules don’t apply to them, the spreading of those droplets is unlikely to just be a harmless thing.

Now, the CDC removed that update from their site, claiming they were still looking into it, but given CDC officials have been essentially feuding with White House officials during the entire pandemic about how to inform and warn folks of the dangers of coronavirus, and non-CDC experts have been pushing the theory of air droplets for months, too, it seems pretty safe to say that, well, it’s safer to believe this is a possibility. Why risk it, you know? Unless there is something important on the line, like some money from tickets to be made, anyway.

All MLB cares about is the money they can make from the season they put on. It’s why they fought for months with the Players Association, trying to pay them even less than initially promised in March when the season shut down. It’s why they threw together some protocols they had no real plans of enforcing, just so they could get this season going. It’s why they didn’t consult with local health officials before writing or enacting the plan they did bother to create. It’s why they didn’t work to actually enforce those protocols until two teams faced major outbreaks that nearly cost the owners the money they thought they would be making by putting on a season. And it’s why they’re going to make fans and stadium workers into lab rats this October, to see if they can use that experience to figure out how attendance in the 2021 season can work.

And since there are enough fans out there who will absolutely throw their safety and reason aside in order to attend a live sporting event, there is no way MLB doesn’t make money off of this. That is, unless Texas’ government officials say no to the whole idea. Which, do you really think that’s going to happen?

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