The comments of Arizona Diamondbacks managing general partner Ken Kendrick on Tuesday made waves in baseball as he emphatically rebuffed the idea of playing a 114-game season that would take the sport’s playing calendar into December this year.
Talking to Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Tuesday, Kendrick said the 114-game proposal from the players — which has since been rejected by MLB — was a “non-starter.” He expressed concern over the season going too long, especially as it relates to the possibility of a second wave of coronavirus cases.
Well-known player agent Scott Boras responded to the remarks (coincidentally, Kendrick also responded to a question about Boras in the same interview) as quoted by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.
“The NFL and college football – contact sports – could be playing in November, let alone December,” Boras said. “MLB, a social distancing sport, says it can’t play playoffs in November. Apparently the NFL and NCAA medical experts think differently.”
Diamondbacks president and CEO Derrick Hall joined Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf Thursday morning and was talking to the radio hosts when Rosenthal’s story was released. Without having first seen Boras’ comments, Hall followed up on what Kendrick had said.
“First and foremost, we want it to be as close to a regular season and possible,” Hall said. “And with that, you want to stay within the time frame that you usually play. You want to be able to play in the home stadiums of those teams that are further along in the playoffs, and with that, you have to consider weather as a factor.
“We also don’t know enough about the virus. There’s going to be clearance from health officials; I think it’s with summer months in mind. There’s all this talk about worries and concerns of it returning or spiking again late fall or in the winter. That’s frightening. So we’ve got to make sure that we do have the safety of our players, our coaches, our staff, the umpires, everybody in mind. And that’s all factored in this.”
MLB and its players association have been quarreling over player compensation to allow the sport to return. Related to that issue is how many games are played, since players might have to settle for playing more games in order to earn the salaries they seek. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported Wednesday that the possibility of a 50-game season is in play.
Hall is confident there will be a season, whether it be by reaching a deal or by the authority that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has to execute the start of a season.
“I am very confident, yeah. We’re going to play baseball, it’s a matter of how many games we play,” Hall said. “But I’m looking forward to it. I just wish we could do it in a very cooperative way. And of course there’s still time and hope for that. But we’re going to play. We just have to make sure there’s clearance publicly with the health agencies to get us out there safely.”
“We have to face it that there are some economic challenges for the teams and we have to make sure that the players understand those and trust those. So we’ve got some hurdles. But I would also say health protocol is an issue as well.”