The sports world has been turned on its head in the past 48 hours. Rudy Gobert’s positive test for the COVID-19 virus, and subsequently the NBA’s postponement of the 2019-20 season, had an effect all the way down to the NCAA (not just winter sports, but spring ones as well), and even high schools and other “lower-level” sports. The hugely popular NCAA basketball tournament’s cancellation is an indicator of how uncertain these times are.
As this site is All Things Valley League, obviously, I’ve been wondering what this might mean for the VBL. The first game is scheduled for May 29th, which is exactly 77 days away.
Let’s look at possible scenarios for the league.
PLEASE KEEP IN MIND THAT THIS IS 100% MY OPINION- I AM ABSOLUTELY, 100%, NOT SPEAKING FOR THE LEAGUE IN ANY WAY.
Clear? Ok, let’s make some guesses.
The Virus Is Not Cleaned Up By the Time Late May Rolls Around
Well, obviously, if it is still unsafe for people to gather in large or medium sized groups, the players will not travel to the Valley to play, and the league would have to be cancelled.
I don’t see the league postponing, what with travel, and host families, and all the prep that goes into each season.
The Virus is Cleaned Up With Enough Time to Still Prepare for the Season
The cancellation of the college season might have some unintended consequences on summer ball. Some thoughts:
- Rust. Players would not have seen game action since the middle of March, and early summer games would probably reflect that.
- Fewer innings limits. If even regular pitchers, in rotations, only got three or four starts under their belts, summer ball will be crucial for those guys to get some innings- perhaps a lot of innings.
- Players less fatigued. Without having those 150+ at-bats or 100 innings in college ball, players should have more reserves in the tank to play almost every night for two months.
- Players more motivated. Would players stick around longer, with more energy and enthusiasm? I think that attrition might be quite a bit lower.
- More excitement of fans to finally have baseball back in their lives. I mean, Major League Spring Training has been cancelled for a day and I’m already jonesing for baseball. When that opening night shows up, perhaps attendance will be up, with fans just happy to have baseball back.
- Fewer players who “max out” of the VBL and head to the Cape. Every year, teams in the VBL lose players who had a great spring in college and attracted the attention of the Cape Cod League. I would imagine now that those guys would still come to the VBL.
- More scouts. Another reason the players would be more motivated is the missed chance to play in front of scouts in their college season. Summer ball could be the place where these guys can get a positive scouting report, and end up on MLB teams’ radar. I wouldn’t be surprised if MLB moved the draft back, perhaps into July or August, and players had a real chance to make a huge impression.
- If the NCAA allows seniors to return to college for another season, those who choose to go that route would be eligible for summer baseball, making the pool of players larger as well- perhaps elevating the level of play across the country.
Well, again, these are just some ideas of some of the consequences of no spring baseball season.
And of course, I feel the need to add that I hope that everyone stays virus-free, and if you do contract it, that you recover quickly.
What thoughts do you have, Brilliant Reader?