PORT ST. LUCIE — Poet Robert Frost was a great baseball fan. It turns out he might have been a pretty good advance scout, too.
Frost wrote: “The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.”
Right now, in this crazy sports age of the coronavirus pandemic, the morning doesn’t know much. With that in mind, let’s wait for the afternoon to get some answers.
Yes, it’s good that baseball has canceled the rest of its spring training games and is delaying the start of the regular season by at least two weeks in reaction to the spreading virus. But baseball and teams should go a step further. Until we know what we are dealing with, camps should be shuttered, too. The Mets still had not made a decision as of Thursday evening what to do.
Let me help. Shut it completely down.
Do we really need to have players running around taking BP and throwing bullpen sessions? Can’t everything be put on a hold for a week or two and have the clubhouses cleared out, and not just clear out the media?
Let the players stay away from each other for a bit.
As I was walking through the Mets campus at Clover Park on Wednesday, in a hallway I passed Donovan Mitchell Sr., one of the nicest guys and hardest workers you will ever meet. He is the team’s director of player relations and community engagement. He was conducting a community event with what looked to be about 50 people in the multipurpose room, the same room the Mets use for some meetings.
His son, Donovan Jr., plays for the Jazz. On Thursday, the star guard confirmed on Instagram that he has tested positive for coronavirus. When Donovan Mitchell Jr. played against the Knicks on March 4, his father was at the game and he came back down to Mets camp afterward.
It is not known if the father had any interaction with his son or other Jazz players like Rudy Gobert, who has tested positive, but Donovan Sr. was in the Mets’ clubhouse Wednesday interacting with players and team personnel. On Thursday, he was told to stay away and arrangements were being made to have him tested.
Let’s hope and pray that he does not contract the virus, but the point is you really don’t know who might have contracted the virus. Until we have a better handle on all things virus-related, is it wise to have these camps open?
If I were in on the decision-making team with one league after another shutting it down, and with March Madness turning into March Sadness, I would say it’s time to take a step back. Let the room clear.
Baseball’s plan should be broader than pushing back the season, canceling spring training games, washing your hands and keeping the media out of the clubhouse.
One MLB official told me Thursday that any player who doesn’t feel comfortable in the work environment can leave, and that’s a good thing. But baseball is a peer-pressure sport. Players want to work. It is in their DNA. Most of them are relentless, and this generation of players probably works too much, they don’t give their bodies the kind of break they should.
For a little while it would be wise to see the Mets and the other teams say, “That’s enough.”
Fred and Jeff Wilpon should take a leadership role and tell their players, “See you in a week or two.” By then we will know more, and hopefully everything will be getting better.
That extra session of batting practice or bullpen work doesn’t mean much right now. Playing simulated games isn’t needed.
Take a break. Clear the room. Clear the clubhouses.
If you get sick, take care of yourself with the procedures that have been drawn up by the CDC. It’s not worth it right now. The season is on hold. Workouts should be on hold, too.
This is not a panic move. This is a keep-calm move. Keep as many people as healthy as possible. This is much bigger than baseball. It’s bigger than the NBA, the PGA, boxing, the NHL, March Madness and all sports.
Be safe. Be smart. Shut it all down.