In addition to talking about the Pros for Heroes initiative that he and his wife launched last week, Washington Nationals’ first baseman Ryan Zimmerman talked some baseball in a 40-minute Zoom conference call with reporters on Monday morning.
Zimmerman, 35, has shared his thoughts in an AP diary during the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic, writing about rumored plans to play out an entire season in quarantine out in Arizona, and he’s keeping up with the latest rumors, and likes that behind the scenes the decision-makers are working hard to find a way to play baseball again when it’s safe.
“You’ve seen certain proposals come out so far,” Zimmerman said. “I think it’s good that so many of these sports organizations are thinking — maybe they shouldn’t think out loud — maybe they should do it in confinement, but I think we all know how impossible that is to do nowadays.”
While there are all sorts of variables to consider before they even think about gathering all the teams in one place, or however they try to play, if they do, the 15-year veteran said he’s aware of the desire to get back to some sense of normalcy and he knows fans want to see live sports again, but only when it’s safe.
Major League Baseball and the Players’ Association have a lot of work to do before they can even think about going with one of the solutions that’s under consideration.
MLB and the MLBPA worked quickly to reach an agreement on the how to handle things while players and fans alike are staying home and social distancing, but there are still a number of issues that will need to be resolved before baseball can return.
“I think everyone wants entertainment, sports, that kind of stuff back in our lives, there’s no question that the athletes want to play, there’s no question that the fans want to watch,” Zimmerman said.
“I think what is optimistic is how quickly we came to an agreement about kind of the stuff once the season was postponed as far as pay structure and things we gave to the owners and things the owners gave to the players.
“It kind of shows you that in times like this we can come together a little bit quicker I think.
“We all know how people are struggling and what it would mean to get sports back, so I think more than ever there’s initiative on both sides to come together, and that usually doesn’t happen, so I’m kind of optimistic about that.”
But, it needs to be safe before they can even try.
“I think at the end of the day it’s got to be safe for everybody,” Zimmerman continued.
“People forget that we have families, people forget that we’re actually human beings and not just robots that go out and play sports to entertain people.
“I know it’s easy to forget that sometimes, but there’s a lot of different moving parts that have to be put together.
“We’ll see what happens. You guys are paying as much attention as I am how this — the numbers, and how this virus is going, and my best advice is just you have to defer to the experts. These are the people who know what they’re talking about, these are the people that are living this stuff every second of the day.
“Hopefully we can consult with them and do what we can to get it back as soon as we can, but obviously as safe as we can as well.”
Most of the plans that have reportedly been discussed, have MLB games being played with no fans in the stadiums, which Zimmerman said makes sense, though it has its drawbacks.
“As far as playing in stadiums without fans: Am I okay with it? I think it would be brutal,” Zimmerman said.
“I can’t imagine — I mean, I tell [my wife] Heather this all the time, sometimes on like a Wednesday in July, it’s really hard to get really pumped up to play a major league baseball game, as sad as that sounds, so when I run out on the field, I need that — the fans almost make me like get up and be like, yeah, ‘Okay, this is why I play, this is why I enjoy coming out on a Wednesday in June,’ because it’s fun to play and hear the fans and hear the roars, and things like that.
“I think it would be challenging for a lot of guys. It would be an interesting environment. But like I said at the beginning of the call, I think a lot of us are willing to kind of do whatever it takes to get sports back.
“I think realistically, obviously, if we want to get it back sooner than later, it’s going to have to be without fans in the stands, so we’ll see what happens.”
And what does Heather think about the idea of Ryan potentially being quarantined in either Arizona or Florida for as long as it would take to play out an abbreviated season?
“That’s a good question,” Heather said. “I would say probably no, I would probably not be 100% comfortable with it. Especially considering we’ll have a newborn in the house.”
“I have my third child due in June,” Zimmerman wrote in one of his recent AP stories.
“If this ‘bubble’ in Arizona was going to happen starting in May, you’re trying to tell me I’m not going to be able to be with my wife and see my kid until October?
“I’m going to go four or five months without seeing my kid when it’s born? I can tell you right now that’s not going to happen.”
“It’s one of those — I hate to say the word ‘sacrifice’, but it’s one of those kind of sacrifices you have to make in order for the game to be played,” Heather continued.
“But we have these conversations every day.
“We’re so interested to see what ends up happening, because obviously outside of the players, there’s a lot of other staff that has to be at a baseball field in order to make it happen.
“The grounds crew, chefs or food caterers, obviously the clubhouse staff, so we’re really interested to see when and if they can get this all going, because there are so many moving parts.
“I’ll be nervous, but I mean, chances are if it does start, and say they are just playing from Arizona or Florida and having to cut the travel side out of it, we’re just probably not going to see [Ryan] for a few months, I would guess.”