American football has a playing field of 57,600 square feet, with 9,600 of those covering the two end zones. NHL hockey is played on a rink with 17,000 square feet. The regulation NBA basketball court covers 4,700 square feet.
The average playing field in major league baseball covers 2.49 acres, or 108,464 square feet. Target Field is a touch smaller at 107,593 square feet. Fenway Park in Boston, opened in 1912, has the smallest playing field at 99,000 square feet.
There are 34,000 square feet in the grass and dirt areas of a baseball infield, and another 77 square feet for the two batter’s and the catcher’s boxes.
The NFL starts a play with 22 players generally covering one-fourth of the field and about to engage in numerous collisions.
Hockey has 10 skaters in pursuit of an elusive rusk, while two mummified human targets remain vigilant as to the outcome of scrums for that hard, dry biscuit.
The NBA has 10 players battling for a much larger object, many defenders attempting to get close enough to an opponent to feel his breath — although, thankfully, that wasn’t a problem with any of our Timberwolves after Robert Covington was traded.
Baseball is played in by far the largest area, with natural spacing, and with contacting an opponent as an irregular occurrence.
These are great advantages for baseball in our virus world, and should make it much easier to resume playing the actual game than for the other major sports.
Yet, either because Commissioner Rob Manfred and his advisers are knotheads, or to mollify politicians and bureaucrats holding sway over a return to action, MLB decided to issue a 67-page document filled with demands on uniformed personnel both at the ballpark and away from it.
This could have been done with one page of eight dos and don’ts, but that would not have been viewed as a properly over-the-top virus response by various state leaders, so we have 67 pages, right down to discouraging postgame showers at the ballpark.
I’d put the credit for this 67-page document as follows:
MLB kissing up to politicians and their personal Faucis in an attempt to get the go-ahead — 60%. Manfred’s knotheads being wildly officious — 40%.
How obtuse do you have to be to ban baseball players from giving one another high-fives and handshakes after a three-run bomba, while at the same time the NHL is talking about setting up pod cities for playoff games, the NBA still mentions the possibility of full playoff series, and the NFL intends to be functioning fully by late summer?
As was covered last week, from Twins great Joe Mauer to Morristown [Minn.] Morries great Kyle Green, the catcher in baseball participates in a uniquely confined area.
Catchers have the hitter in front, either left or right, and the plate umpire on their back, creating potential wheezing and other unsanitary events within fewer than 6 feet.
Thus, MLB might want to pay extra attention to the catcher between innings, with suggestions such as, “Hey, Mitch, put a little of that hand sanitizer on your forehead,” or, “Tortuga, let’s take your temperature; you look slightly overheated.”
Beyond that: play the game.
And if the ballplayers are on the road, and the restaurants are open in that town, and they want to go to dinner after a day game, and the unmarried ones spot a person of interest at the bar and want to buy said individual a drink … well, this is still America, land of the free, Rob Manfred be danged.
Speaking of free, go ahead and argue with me: State that hockey players can all wear face shields and are wearing thick gloves; that football players have all that gear and also can wear face shields; and that all NBA teams can be encouraged to play defense like the Wolves.
I’m still betting if the virus is properly determined, it can do some damage in a hockey pile in a corner or in front of a goalkeeper, or when Alexander Mattison is trying to punch it in at the goal line, or when Rudy Gobert (who launched the sports shutdown in America) and Nikola Jokic meet in the middle late in a playoff game in Salt Lake City.
Baseball doesn’t need 67 pages of haughty edicts. Baseball doesn’t need its players leaving the ballpark still covered in sweat and grime. Baseball’s space and low-contact action means it only needs a bit of common sense.
If football, hockey and basketball are even thinking about getting back on the field or in the arena in the near future, baseball preparations could resume soon.
Meaning, noon Friday.
Write to Patrick Reusse by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org and including his name in the subject line.