Bob Costas on pitfalls of baseball returning amid coronavirus pandemic

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Legendary sportscaster Bob Costas explained some of the pitfalls baseball could be facing if they open up games too early and without a plan to thwart any kind of second-wave outbreak of the coronavirus.

Costas, who appeared on “The Brian Kilmeade Show” on Friday, told host Brian Kilmeade he thinks made-for-TV games are the way to go if Major League Baseball is able to play any games at all during the 2020 season.

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“I think the most likely and most practical outcome, if they’re able to play any games at all … is without fans," Costas said. "If something is 90 percent successful it’s going to be a failure. If the 10 percent causes some sort of outbreak among the participants and also if there’s a public perception that somehow sports is getting preferential treatment when other people within society need it as much or more that’s a public relations nightmare. I think that baseball faces a different circumstance because even playing half-a-season involves so many more games.

“What basketball and hockey are looking at, if they’re able, is some kind of playoff thing that starts right away. Just start the playoffs based on where the regular season left off and get it over with. Baseball, to have any kind of valid season leading into the playoffs, have to play 80 games or so.”

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Costas said that for baseball to have that type of season, it’s going to involve a lot more than just quarantining 750 players, their families, managers and more. A plan would have to include the people who don’t get the backpage headlines.

“Not only would you have to quarantine them and the umpires and other officials, but what about the guy who picks up the towels in the locker room? What about the guy who drives the bus or turns on the lights at the stadium even without fans? There’s a lot of pitfalls here. People are going to get hurt and go on the injured list. What about Triple-A? They’re not playing minor league baseball. What’re you gonna do? You gonna quarantine 10 or 12 guys per team just in case somebody is hurt? There’s a lot of things that can fall through the cracks here even with the best intentions and the best practices,” he said.

Costas also pondered how fans would be able to return to the ballparks and what social-distancing measures would be taken to keep fans from doing normal things.

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“[A] 90 or 95 percent is a good grade on most tests, it wouldn’t be the right grade on this test," he said. "And think about it. Let’s say you have 10,000 fans at the game and they’re socially distancing the seats, how are you gonna get them through the turnstiles in a socially distanced way and still start the game on time?

"Stadiums aren’t set up in anticipation of this. I guess the next point isn’t that important but it would be odd. You’re going to be wearing a mask in the stands at a ball game, you’re not going to have a beer at the ball game? You’re not going to have a hot dog? You’re not going to be able to slap the guy on the shoulder next to you and say ‘Wow, what a play that was’ or ‘ What a dumb decision that was by the manager’? I’m not saying that can’t happen, it’s just weird.”

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Baseball has not unveiled any type of plan or start date for the 2020 season. At least one contingency plan reportedly included playing games in the Phoenix area and keeping players quarantined for an entire season.