MLBPA’s Tony Clark on baseball returning amid the coronavirus pandemic: ‘There is so much out of our control’

Baseball, like so many other sports, is currently suspended because of the ongoing coronavirus global pandemic. MLB and the players association (MLBPA) are determined to have a 2020 season of some kind and have discussed a variety of scenarios for the 2020 regular and postseason. One of their considered plans, the much-discussed “Arizona plan,” involves beginning the regular season in Arizona and playing all games in the Phoenix area without fans in attendance. 

There are plenty of logistical hurdles MLB would need to overcome before committing to the plan, but Tony Clark, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, is still hopeful that MLB will play games in some way in 2020.

“I’m a glass half-full guy anyways,” Clark told USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. “But as I sit here on April 15, Jackie Robinson Day, I continue to remain optimistic that the possibility of playing still exists.”

Clark told USA Today that he had a 30-minute phone call last week with MLB officials discussing the Arizona plan, as well as the idea of drastic realignment of the league’s American and National leagues..

“Everything centers around two things,” Clark told USA Today. “The amount of testing available and a vaccine. And how it can be mitigated in the public arena as much as the professional arena. And it can’t be at the expense of public testing.”

Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout raised issues with the league’s potential Arizona plan on Wednesday, and other players have expressed a similar hesitation about the league’s plan. But, Clark says that they are not close to anything definite and will run the idea(s) by players once it reaches closer to a final plan.

“We’re still a ways from that,” Clark told USA Today. “There have been a lot of ideas thrown out there, but not much to the depth of them. Once we find ourselves in discussions with the league in terms of options and variations, we in turn can present those ideas to the players, and the players can decide what makes most sense.”

Clark understands that the return of baseball could be a good thing for fans.

“Knowing we can bring the game to the fans, having them watch the broadcasts, is valuable, too,” Clark told USA Today.

“Folks are missing our game, that’s the thing I hear daily. There’s a love for our game and respect for our game.”

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