Throw a dart in any direction and it's likely to hit the following general opinion: It would be devastatingly bad for Major League Baseball to miss out on a 2020 season due to monetary squabbles. It's a fairly safe thing to say in normal times. The stench of 1994 still hangs in the air. Yet one would think that several months of unprecedented uncertainty would spark higher levels of humility in predicting the future.
With that in mind, it's okay to admit that none of us have any idea if conducting a baseball season (or basketball or football) will ultimately prove to be a net-positive or net-negative. The essential up-front caveat: all leagues should be trying their hardest to resume if and only if the safety precautions make the risk worth the reward. But that's not the end of the story. It's the beginning.
The consequences of forging on with sports in this environment can only be judged far into the future. It is possible that all leagues are able to play until there's a champion while avoiding any health scares or tragedy. It's also possible that the collateral damage of pushing for normalcy results in preventable death and a second abandonment of play.
Best-laid plans are great. As a society we should not give up. Yet it'd be irresponsible to abandon caution or a sober view of a murky future over the horizon. It's become fashionable in certain corners of the internet to decry responsibility as rooting for the virus. The absurdity of this position should be clear on its face, yet it still persists. So let me try a different angle.
Are we absolutely sure approaching baseball's foray back into existence or its failure to do so in the binary "good" and "bad" camps is the right thing to do? How could we possibly know which course of action -- whether it be intentional or accidental -- yields the best real-world result? How could we possibly know if short-term victories will only cause long-term heartache or vice versa? What if, and this may sound crazy, we're rooting for the wrong thing?
With full understanding that no one likes a contrarian, it's been a little jarring to see every bit of news that people are re-entering society en masse as a positive. It may very well be a great thing that current conditions have allowed normalcy to creep back it. It may also be that we're simply expediting the next spike and rise in cases by ushering in higher-risk behavior.
There's nothing more human than wanting to feel fully human again. Baseball and other sports would seemingly go a long way in facilitating that. But that desire may ultimately prove to be a tragic impulse.
An argument could be made that having to shut down leagues again after tragedy would be far more damning and detrimental than not starting back up in the first place. I hope to God that's not what lies down the road. But I'm confident enough in my knowledge that I don't have all the knowledge to admit it could.
Baseball could do the right thing for what's perceived as the wrong reasons. The right thing for baseball could be different from the right thing for the NBA. There's a randomness to who bears the brunt of this pandemic that can be haunting and disorienting.
And that's the thing. We are still reeling a bit, our compasses not sure where to point. It's scary to even consider that what we think is the right direction could be a road to ruin. It's still worth considering.