In September of 2001, the United States came to a screeching halt. The sports world wasn’t impervious to that ripple effect. Major League Baseball was put on pause, and the country found itself in unfamiliar territory.
Similar things are true in 2020 as the coronavirus outbreak has paused most major sports and caused MLB to delay its season.
Luis Gonzalez, an outfielder for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001 and now a senior advisor to the president of the D-backs, drew the comparison between today’s coronavirus pandemic and 9/11 in terms of the unusual circumstances it’s presented for all people.
“I think the most important thing even back then was the safety of everybody,” Gonzalez said Friday to Bickley & Marotta on Arizona Sports. “Our country was going through something that we’ve never had to go through before. And it’s the same thing here.”
Major League Baseball announced Thursday it would cancel spring training games effective immediately and delay the start of the regular season. That leaves MLB teams in limbo as the world awaits the passing of COVID-19.
“Pulling up to the spring training today, you’re used to seeing the parking lot full of cars, hearing the crack of the bat and guys running around and you don’t see any of that today,” Gonzalez said. “There were some guys down here that were hitting in the cage, some big-league guys that were doing that, but it’s just an eerie feeling. Go figure: On Friday the 13th, you come out here and there’s no ballgames.”
Gonzalez said he “absolutely” agrees with the decision MLB made to suspend play, after which point team owner Ken Kendrick and CEO Derrick Hall spoke with the team.
MLB followed suit with both the NBA and NHL after Utah Jazz players Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell tested positive for coronavirus. The Diamondbacks were set to begin their regular season on March 26.
“I think after you saw the other major sports do what they’ve been doing, it just came down to health and safety for everyone is more important than playing a game,” Gonzalez said.