We're mere hours from Major League Baseball trotting out the big guns for a made-for-television schedule release in which each team will be tasked with times and dates for 60 games to be played by the end of summer. But it doesn't take the most observant person on planet to notice that the sport is having a bit of trouble doing the basic stuff required to begin even practicing for the regular season.
Already today, the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals have canceled workouts while they await the results of COVID tests they took last Friday. This comes on the heels of the Oakland Athletics waiting in vain for theirs and the Los Angeles Angels not even getting a scheduled visit from testers.
The COVID testing procedure appears broken. And while some of that can be attributed to newness and routine early-process hiccups, it certainly does not portend good things for the future. Remember, this is all happening at time when the teams are relatively static. There are no road trips to deal with. There are no tight turnaround times for getaway days.
And I say that as a criticism. We are living in unprecedented times with unprecedented challenges. Everyone is doing their best. But consider that part of your being that's just been assuming the hiccups and false starts will cease once the season begins -- gasp -- in a few weeks? How connected with reality and predictable future reality is that portion of your brain?
Is it possible that today will serve as a negative turning point? The day it should have been clear to even the blindly optimistic that forging through and playing a Major League Baseball season was too much of a challenge? Obviously, one hopes that's not the case. To think that it's a reality not weighing heavily on the hearts of the sport's brass would be willfully ignorant.
We have Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo saying the season's in jeopardy if the testing issues aren't resolved. Brewers manager Craig Counsell is representative of managers everywhere who are prioritizing safety over game-planning for a season. It feels as though we're getting close to a tipping point.
That this is happening with a ticking clock is not ideal. This evening was supposed to be about optimism and excitement for the future. Instead it's going to be a strong reminder of all the cleanup and preparation that must be done to even play those 60 games.
Major League Baseball is having a tough time keeping its footing while getting out of the batter's box. That needs to change quickly if they want to avoid sheepishly shuffling back to the dugout.