Yankees president Randy Levine is beating the drum for baseball’s return

TAMPA — Calling baseball players “patriots,” Randy Levine is making the rounds to make the case for baseball in the time of the coronavirus pandemic. The Yankees president, in three interviews over the last 24 hours has been hopeful that the Stadium in the Bronx — and the Field in Flushing — will be open with fans cheering on their teams at some point this summer.

With over a month of the MLB season now lost to the national health crisis, there are still huge hurdles to getting back to baseball. Not only do government and public health officials have to get an idea of how great the infection is in the population — requiring millions of tests to be produced and processed— but MLB has to negotiate a new pay-rate with their players.

Levine was optimistic to say the least.

“I think our players are patriots," he said on Good Day New York. “They want to do it. We all are trying to get there. The commissioner’s doing a great job. So hopefully in a little bit, we’ll hear, ‘Play ball!’”

Randy Levine, a longtime Donald Trump ally, is pushing for baseball's return.
Randy Levine, a longtime Donald Trump ally, is pushing for baseball's return.(Mark Lennihan/AP)

Whether or not we will hear those familiar words this summer will likely be decided in the next week or two. According to reports, the league is expected to turn over a proposal to get the game back on the field, starting with spring training in June and the regular season starting in July. The players’ union chief Tony Clark told ESPN’s Marly Rivera this week that despite several leaked “plans” there has been no official proposal from the league yet.

MLB and union officials confirmed they had not discussed anything official as of Thursday afternoon.

"Well, there’s no official date yet,” Levine said Wednesday in another interview with 1010 WINS. “There are many plans that all the clubs and the commissioner are looking at right now. Obviously, what happens on the ground with the virus is important to monitor on a day-to-day basis. But I think we are moving closer to finalizing a plan, which we would set forth, talk to all the public health officials, make sure that they’re on board and see if we can progress. So I can’t give you a date right now. All I can tell you is everybody’s working really hard to get this done.”

Players vocally pushed back against the floated idea of quarantining with officials and essential broadcast and team personnel in Arizona, Florida or Texas. MLB officials are now very interested in getting teams back to their major league cities. That would cut down on the challenge of travel in these uncertain times, but also cut down the costs of housing and feeding players and personnel at spring training sites.

That could pose some problems, however, with cities such as New York that are hotspots for COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. New York City mayor Bill de Blasio poured cold water on the idea of games being played in the Bronx and Queens.

“I don’t think that’s coming soon,” de Blasio said of games being played in the city. Later Thursday, Levine went on WFAN and reiterated his stance that the Yankees and Mets could play home games this season.

Levine has been pushing for a return to baseball — and the gate that comes from having fans in the seats. He is on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s re-opening New York committee, along with Mets COO Jeff Wilpon, Knicks owner James Dolan and several other New York City sports executives. Levine is also a long-time ally of President Donald Trump, who has been advocating to reopen the nation’s economy along with professional sports.

As of Thursday afternoon, there were 1.26 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 74,665 deaths in the United States. Some projections were expecting daily increases throughout the month peaking at 3,000 deaths a day on June 1, as areas try to ease their shutdown regulations and restart their economies.

Levine sees baseball as a way to help the country through a tough time.

This week, Levine has sounded a hopeful and patriotic theme. “We’re very, very hopeful that we can get going,” he said. “Baseball has stepped up in troubled times to be a leader. We’re used to it. It’s a distraction. It’s comforting to people. It comes with the rhythm of their life.”

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.