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Washington Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman wants assurances on player safety before 2020 season talk...

“At some point, we’ve got to be real about: What’s worth having baseball?” - Ryan Zimmerman/AP story

World Series - Washington Nationals v Houston Astros - Game Six Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

If you weren’t aware, veteran Washington Nationals’ first baseman Ryan Zimmerman has been keeping an AP diary during the coronavirus pandemic, and he hasn’t shied away in these posts from the tough topics facing major league players right now.

While the topic being discussed everywhere this past week has been the financing and the salary structure for a potential 2020 season, Zimmerman wrote in his latest story that he is still concerned about the safety of not only the players, but their families, and everyone else involved in bringing games to people in desperate need of a distraction/entertainment.

“Everyone’s like: ‘You guys should just go do it,’” Zimmerman wrote. “‘Why not? It’ll be safe.’ Oh, OK. Really? Tell me how it’s going to be safe, and then I’ll think about it.”

MLB’s plan for the testing and safety of players has already been released, you can read all their plans and medical experts’ takes on them HERE.

But, Zimmerman added:

“There need to be assurances — not 90%; 100% — about health and safety for us and our families and everyone involved.

Not just the players, but also the field staff, the clubhouse staff, the stadium staff, security people.”

Zimmerman, drafted out of the University of Virginia, is, of course, a 15-year veteran, who’s spent his entire career in the nation’s capital, and he returned to the Nationals on a new 1-year/$2M deal this past winter, after helping Washington win the World Series last October.

It’s safe to say the 35-year-old infielder has an idea of just how important the game is to the American public, and he wants to help entertain baseball fans, as long as it’s safe.

“I love baseball and I know how much America loves baseball. But you know what I love way more than baseball? My family — and my kids being able to live a normal life because we missed baseball for one year, if that’s what ends up being the case.

“So to me, daily testing is what you have to have. When you’re walking into the stadium that day, you need to know for a fact that everyone around is negative.”

Even then, there are plenty of ways things can go sideways if the virus continues to spread around the country. What if one player gets the coronavirus? What if they get it, and they’re asymptomatic and bring it home their families?

These are, of course, the same worries which everyone is dealing with right now around the globe, and Zimmerman and his wife, Heather, have two kids at home, and another one on this summer, so, all things considered, he asks a question that’s come up in his previous AP diaries.

“At some point, we’ve got to be real about: What’s worth having baseball?”

Will the team that comes out on top in a shortened season have an asterisk that takes away from their accomplishment? Will teams be able to keep players safe, not just getting to the field, but on it in a situation in which there’s a shortened season where every game is more important ... after everyone’s been home for months waiting for word on if they’ll play this year? Will pitchers be able to ramp up safely after all this time off?

How will players, who will effectively be quarantined for four months, handle the new reality of playing baseball in a pandemic?

“The narrative is going to become about about money. It always is,” Zimmerman writes after asking some of the questions above.

“I’m not saying that’s right or wrong. But believe it or not, most of us still enjoy the heck out of playing baseball.

“Before we dig into the economics, you have to think about this: All it takes is one person to get sick — or pass away, God forbid — and then you wonder why you did it.”

Will Zimmerman and other veterans, who’ve maybe accomplished all they can in this game, decide against playing in these circumstances? What about young players (and even stars) who are worried about their families and young kids?

Zimmerman notes at another point that MLB and the MLBPA, “have to really also be careful about the product that we put on the field. People are going to expect to see Major League Baseball that they’ve seen in the past.”

All the back and forth over salaries is meaningless if MLB and the MLBPA can’t guarantee that the players will be safe trying to pull this off, but Zimmerman’s question is a big one:

“What’s worth having baseball?”