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What China can tell us about the resumption of the MLB season

We all want baseball back but if China’s handling of team sports is any indication we may be without baseball for a lot longer than we hope.

Olympics: Youth Olympic Winter Games Handout Photo-USA TODAY NETWORK

It’s tempting to think about the start of baseball yet again. Fans eagerly await the day when an At-Bat notification comes across their phones heralding the return of Major League Baseball. If MLB is back then Minor League Baseball will soon follow and the various unaffiliated and independent leagues can’t be too long after those dominoes fall. When baseball fans see professional unaffiliated leagues in three major Asian countries scheduled to begin play in April it’s understandable that those same fans get really excited for the eventual return of baseball throughout North America.

At the same time, the Chinese government just announced restrictions on the resumption of any team sports throughout their country.

This does put a damper on any excitement for a number of reasons. First and foremost is the timeline at play. COVID-19 first affected China in November of 2019 and by January of this year, the Chinese government had enacted lockdown procedures in the areas directly in the contagions path. Presently, China seems to have a good handle on COVID-19. The measures they took to curb the spread of the virus have resulted in decreasing infection numbers and a move towards a resumption of life pre-COVID-19.

The reason China’s timeline of handling the virus matters so much is that it is the polar opposite of how America chose to handle the spread of COVID-19. It took the American government much longer to respond and even as the number of infected began to rise America didn’t take swift action. This approach has resulted in the current lockdown that isn’t truly a lockdown. Individual states are doing as they please and even states that have shut down have made it more of a guideline rather than an order. Plenty of people are taking the lockdown seriously, but just as many, if not more, aren’t partaking in any lockdown. It’s life as usual for some states and the virus continues to spread through America like wildfire.

When you combine America’s lack of an initial response with its current tepid response and its status as a worldwide hub you have the recipe for a virus that is incredibly hard to manage or contain. We know that America’s method of attacking the Coronavirus isn’t working, or at least it isn’t working at the same level as the more forceful responses of China and other countries. Yet, here’s China announcing that despite their efforts they still think it is too hard to find asymptomatic carriers of the virus. That is why they won’t resume team sports and it’s a damn valid reason.

Even as baseball is set to resume in Taiwan, Korea, and Japan it is unclear if that is a smart choice. I say that knowing full well that at least two of those countries, Korea and Taiwan, have had commendable responses to COVID-19. If there’s reason to have pause about Taiwan starting up team sports activities then it’s absolutely terrifying to think of America starting up team sports any time soon. I’d go so far as to say that it may be for the best if team sports in America don’t return until 2022 at the earliest.

Perhaps the above is an overreaction, I’m not opposed to such criticism.

All the same, I’d rather look at the actions of a country that has handled the virus far better than America and maybe rethink the desire to get team sports up and running again. I don’t want baseball to stay away forever.

I miss going to Miller Park, I miss scouring the ranks of unaffiliated baseball for great stories that no one else is covering, and I miss the simplicity of the game I love. What I’d miss most of all is baseball coming back and causing the virus to flare up again. I’m more than willing to wait for baseball to return if it means more people will be alive in the long run.

Maybe China has it right, maybe they don’t, but I’m not willing to sacrifice any lives for a game.