Once the financial disagreements are settled, they figure out where to play, decide how many players are on a roster, lock in a universal designed hitter and check off every aspect of a complex testing system, Major League Baseball and the Giants would kind of get back to normal, right?
Not even close.
If the sport resumes this year, possibly as early as July, it's going to have a completely different look, and not just because fans are expected to be kept out of the seats all season.
MLB presented a 67-page document to the Players Association last week outlining health and safety protocols, and part of it focused on things players can no longer do at the ballpark. The game will have a completely different vibe in certain respects. Here's a rundown of some habits and actions the Giants will have to do away with:
When he jogged in from the bullpen in Game 7, Madison Bumgarner reached the mound, looked around, put a finger over one nostril and fired fluids into the dirt. It was his move, one that was so well known that there's even a blog that captured his snot-statistics. He was caught firing rockets over 100 times on broadcasts last season alone.
— 𝒮𝓃𝑜𝓉𝑔𝒾𝓇𝓁 🧠🔨 (@Fawn_Liebowitz) October 20, 2016
Bumgarner is now an Arizona Diamondback, but he was hardly alone in sending bodily fluids flying. Players are constantly spitting -- in the outfield, at the plate, on the mound, in the dugout, as they lean on the rail, etc. The floor of a dugout after a game is one of the most disgusting things in professional sports.
MLB proposed a ban on spitting, the use of smokeless tobacco and sunflower seeds in restricted areas. This is going to be a bigger adjustment than it sounds. A few years ago the league asked players to make sure tins weren't visible when they took the field, but you still see plenty of players with that familiar circle in their back pocket. It's a hard habit to shake.
As for seeds, that might be a bit easier. Teams can remove them from the dugout. But if the Giants make the playoffs, you can forget about those seed-filled speeches that were so popular in Hunter Pence's first go-around with the team.
One of the funniest traditions in the sport is giving a rookie the silent treatment when he hits a home run. But MLB has proposed a ban on high-fives, fist bumps and hugs at facilities. Is this what every home run is going to look like in 2020?
Giants dugout gave Steven Duggar the silent treatment after his first homer: pic.twitter.com/UJyFBgT0v9
— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) August 5, 2018
We have faith that teams will find a creative workaround for big home runs, but this is still going to be a huge change. When a starter came out of the game after a good outing, Bruce Bochy would shake his hand. Then the player would walk through the dugout, getting back-slaps and high-fives and handshakes. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of physical interactions in a dugout and on the field during a game. Those won't be allowed.
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Have we seen our last Buster Hug? It's unlikely that starters will get their pitch counts high enough that they can throw no-hitters this season, but given the timing issues hitters will face early on, it wouldn't be a surprise to see a couple of combined no-hitters around MLB this season. You won't see this, though.
Rangers visit the A's the first week of the season, and the Giants from August 24-26. Giants happen to be giving away Buster Hugs bobbleheads that weekend. pic.twitter.com/vaGX6OrKp2
— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) February 27, 2018
There are few things better than witnessing a walk-off win, and the Giants will have a few of them when they return. But they're going to be weird. Will players have to socially distance themselves as they wait for the hero to reach the plate? Will they still scream knowing that the ballpark is empty and their words won't be drowned out?
The MLB proposal did have a section addressing communal water, prohibiting coolers and jugs. Players can only get drinks from personal bottles or contactless dispensers. We've seen the end, at least temporarily, of celebrations like this one ...
That's Derek Holland with the huge jug of water. "Gotta do something different, you know?" he said. pic.twitter.com/axLtJbcf5s
— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) April 8, 2018
Or this one ...
You are not allowed to dump Gatorade on Madison Bumgarner. pic.twitter.com/DY3ofdfHSY
— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) September 26, 2018
MLB plans to prohibit the use of saunas, steam rooms, hydrotherapy pools and cryotherapy chambers, which is rough timing for the Giants, who just built a new spring training facility with a float tank and state-of-the-art training pools. This will be a big deal, actually, as players use all of these methods to recover from games.
The ice bath has been upgraded over time, and it's not just for creaky old veterans. Plenty of younger Giants have embraced modern techniques to keep their muscles in shape.
MLB's plan also says showering will be "discouraged" at club facilities, which sounds gross but really shouldn't be a deal-breaker. Guys regularly change into shorts and a t-shirt after games to eat and talk with the media, so it shouldn't be too much of an adjustment to just head home in that outfit and shower there.
That rule does, however, take away another tradition: The rookie who gets his first hit or win and gets thrown into a shower cart and doused with beer, soap and whatever else can be found:
Other pitchers put Kontos in laundry cart and rolled him into clubhouse for celebratory beer shower. Kontos: "I got a little bit giddy."
— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) August 30, 2012
These are mostly minor changes in the big picture, and it's a small price to pay to get baseball back, particularly compared to what essential workers are going through right now. The sport is going to look a lot different, but let's hope the two sides get together and embrace the change. It might be an odd season, but eventually, the hope is that baseball gets back to normal ...
"I was in the shower just now and I was thinking about Dee Gordon." Peavy beats D-Backs, looks forward to Dodgers: http://t.co/6IcTrPYO1e
— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) September 17, 2014
Giants must stop unsanitary traditions with MLB proposed safety rules originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area