Mariners may play this summer, but will you be able to go to the ballpark?
Many things are different during this pandemic. No hangouts with friends, no going out to restaurants or bars, and no baseball. Not yet, anyway.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Corey Brock covers the Seattle Mariners for The Athletic. He says plans are in the works for some sort of major league baseball season.
I think they're going to try and give it a go. I think they're examining every kind of possibility we could think of at this point: using home cities for games with no fans; having teams sequestered in Arizona and Florida; realigning the divisions instead of crisscrossing the country as much.
They're kicking around a lot of options. In the last week, I've grown a little bit more optimistic that we are going to have a baseball season. Up until then, I was thinking I’m not sure spectator sports are coming back this year. And, maybe it's not wise to do so.
How likely do you think it is that Mariners fans might be able to see the team in person this season here in Seattle?
I would say that's probably the least likely scenario. I think that the congregation of fans is a situation that cities and states potentially want to push off as long as they can.
I think the best-case scenario is you're going to get professional and college sports back, but it will likely be in front of an empty venue. At least we would have some sports to watch.
I think it's highly unlikely that we're going to see fans in stadiums before the end of the year, especially without more testing and a vaccine becoming available,
What do you think that kind of experience would be like for baseball fans this year?
At some point, we would just want live sports back, because it feels normal. It's a return to normalcy. I think it would be embraced. I think people would love to be at these games. Seahawks fans filling that stadium. Husky fans filling that stadium. Mariners fans coming back.
There's no better place to be in the summer than T-Mobile Park watching a baseball game with that roof open. They would love that, but I think in the absence of that, they would still be very, very happy just to have live sports return.
The Mariners are a young team. Expectations were pretty low for them heading into this season. What does this mean for them?
This was going to be a year where the team wasn't going to compete for the playoffs. They've said as much. They're going through a rebuild.
I think there was an opportunity for a lot of young guys to make their mark in the big leagues this year. In the absence of that, if you don't have a season, what it does, effectively, is stunt the rebuild and push everything back for at least another year.
These guys who needed this year for development and growth, they didn't get a chance to do anything except play catch in their backyard and hit off a batting tee into a net. I think that's where it's going to hurt those guys. It won't hurt their development long-term. It just won't provide an organization like the Mariners answers as to where they are in terms of this rebuild.
How about the fans and their relationship to the team? What's at stake there for the organization as a whole as it's trying to keep its connection with the fans?
It's a real tenuous time for the organization. The television ratings for Root Sports have been down. Attendance has been down. Fans are smart. They recognize that this team is struggling. It hasn't been to the playoffs since 2001. There are other viable options within the Pacific Northwest in terms of your entertainment dollar: the Seahawks, the Huskies, the success of the Seattle Sounders.
I think where the Mariners fit in the landscape is a lot further down the list than they once were. It's been a tough time for them. They were counting on using this season as an opportunity to sell fans on these young players, so they could be a bigger part of our future.
I think fans will probably be a little less optimistic about the future than maybe they once were, because you would have gone an entire year without watching these guys play.
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