As far as Dr. Anthony S. Fauci I remember last season for the first time that it was almost completely free to watch baseball. “Much to my great pain,” he said in an interview with the New York Times on Friday night. He later added, “It was just really awful.”
Before the coronavirus pandemic turned the world upside down and consumed his life, Fauci, the U.S. government’s foremost infectious disease expert and advisor to seven presidents, loved a break from work brought about by visiting Nationals Park of a beer and eating a hot beer was born dog watching his beloved Nationals. Grow up, He played in Brooklyn’s sandlots, revered the Yankees, and noted the stats of the players.
“My year was a completely lost year,” said 80-year-old Fauci. “I hope it will be a little different this year, but that will depend on the dynamics of the outbreak.”
With spring training starting next week in Arizona and Florida – both common virus hotspots – and the start of the Major League Baseball season on April 1, Fauci discussed the public health challenges ahead and his optimism that a normal season would be 162 games can be played, his belief that fans can safely return to the outdoor bleachers, and what he told baseball officials.
At least you know how the Nationals didn’t see much baseball last season? (After winning the World Series title in 2019, they went 26-34 in 2020 – last tied in the National League East.)
Yeah, a little disappointing. But we’ll be back.
Have you participated from a health point of view and seen how MLB and the players have mastered the 2020 season no bubble – from early breakouts at the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals that put the season at risk to tightening protocols and bubble-like conditions during the postseason?
Unfortunately, I really can’t comment intelligently on it because I was completely beside myself. I feel bad about being such a huge baseball fan, but I was just totally out of it. I was just working 18, 19 hours a day, seven days a week. I had no time
Federal officials spoke separately to MLB and the players union last week. Did you recommend postponing the season or continuing as planned?
I didn’t recommend one route or the other because it was very clear that there was tension between the leadership of Major League Baseball and the Players Association – that the players wanted to get the season going on schedule and there was some concern about whether it was or they weren’t supposed to delay what would have salary and other implications. I couldn’t get into that.
The only thing I said was that from a public health perspective it looks like the cases – if you look at the display of the cases – have peaked, they turn around and start to decline. And the more time goes by, the fewer cases we’re likely to see. Unless – unless – and this is a possibility we have an unexpected surge in terms of some of the variants. I think it would be a really close call and I didn’t want to get into the argument about delaying it or not delaying it.
I would just say that whatever you do, you have to do the best you can to keep the players and those involved in the game safe because you don’t want them to get infected. In time there will be more and more vaccines available. And I would envision that the players and everyone else could be vaccinated within a reasonable time. I don’t think that will happen before the season starts, but I think that would be something that is on the horizon.
Apr. 13, 2021, 11:50 p.m. ET
Anyway, I didn’t want to take sides in any dispute because I think it’s an empirical decision. It is really a verdict.
Do other professional sports leagues seek advice?
You all have. And that’s why I’m a little shy because it’s been taken out of context. They ask me questions that are scientific public health questions and I give them answers based on solid scientific data. The decision they make is theirs.
Even though Cases are trendingThey are still higher than when the 2020 season began on July 23. So are you more or less optimistic that a longer 162 game season can be completed?
I am optimistic – but I must point out that it is cautious optimism – that although the falls are high compared to this time last year, they are on the brink. And every day it looks like it’s getting less and less. If you look at a month or so, we had 300,000 to 400,000 cases a day. We have had fewer than 100,000 cases for the last few days in a row, which is a remarkable decrease.
As the slopes continue to sink, we are going in the right direction. Overlay this with the fact that we now have highly potent vaccines that are being introduced. We vaccinate more people every day. And we will have more and more vaccines available as the weeks and months go by. So it looks like we’re going in the right direction. Whether it stays in this direction or not depends on a number of things: Will people continue to be cautious and implement public health measures? What will happen to the variants? Will they make things more difficult by having an additional surge in infections? I dont know.
The big wild cards are really the variants. Because the Variant that is in the UK That will likely become more dominant in the US. The models tell us this is expected to happen in late March. If we do not adhere to public health policies as we should, we could be affected. That’s why I say I’m cautiously optimistic because we could quickly turn around and go in the opposite direction.
The positive aspect of baseball is that most of it is outdoors. And if you place people well enough to get people to wear masks, you have situations where people don’t crowd at the concessions nearby for food and the like. You can do it pretty safely, I believe.
Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor of New York announced that as of February 23With testing, distancing, and face-covering requirements, arenas and stadiums with 10,000 or more seats can take up 10 percent of the venue’s capacity. Is that advisable?
If you want to do it indoors you need to have the capacity significantly less than if you do it outdoors. Outdoor is a great safety valve in terms of the transmission of respiratory diseases. Outside is always better than inside.
As an avid Nationals fan, would you go back to Nationals Park to see a game this season?
This depends entirely on the virus level in the community. If every time you look the charts in the newspaper When it comes to infection, it just keeps going down and down, and if I get ready to go to a game – where it’s warm enough for me to go to a game – I might very well choose that I want it go in the stands. But again, it’s hard to make a decision about something you might do in March or April in the middle of the cold month of February because you don’t know what the level of infection will be.
Finally, after last year, you want to throw out a ceremonial first place faulty litter on opening day at Nationals Park?
I want a chance to redeem myself. (Laugh.)
Have you been given this opportunity?
No, they haven’t mentioned anything about that yet.
Do you at least practice in the meantime?
I did not. That was the problem why I threw it so badly: I practiced so much that I injured my arm.