Over the past few days I’ve seen some people online referring to the second, compact spring training Major League Baseball will be undertaking in advance of the late-July start to the season as “summer camp.” Which I suppose is technically more accurate than “spring training,” so fine.
After hearing a few people use it online conversation it started to rub me the wrong way. Not in any serious way, mind you, but mildly. I mean, sure, it’s clever on some level, but the whole reason this is happening is because of a pandemic that has killed half a million people around the world. I won’t tell anyone else what to do with that and I don’t consider “summer camp” to be in bad taste or anything, but if it were me I’d probably choose to go light on the witty references to this weird season. It just feels off to me somehow.
Major League Baseball, meanwhile, has chosen to go the other way with it all together. They’ve sold a dang sponsorship for “summer camp.” This just came via press release:
MLB HIGHLIGHTS UNIQUE FEATURES FOR 2020 SEASON
First Workouts of 2020 Summer Camp presented by Camping World to Be Held Friday
Major League Baseball today announced some of the unique features that will be a part of the 2020 regular season, including health and safety protocols that will impact play on the field as well as revised operating procedures away from it. Summer Camp presented by Camping World begins on Wednesday, July 1st, the mandatory reporting date.
I honestly can’t think of anything that encapsulates the Rob Manfred Era of Major League Baseball better than this. Something like 90% of Americans couldn’t pick Mike Trout out of a lineup, but MLB’s marketing department had the hustle to get a company to pay to sponsor an event that’s only happening because of a global pandemic.
On Friday it was reported that Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman was considering opting out of the 2020 season. He has considered it. And yes, he is opting out. That’s the report from Britt Ghiroli of The Athletic. Zimmerman previously cited the facts that (a) he has a three-week-old baby at home; and (b) his mother has multiple sclerosis, which compromises a person’s immune system. In light of that it’s understandable that he has decided to err on the side of caution.
Per Major League Baseball’s health and safety guidelines, Zimmerman will forfeit his pay and service time for 2020, as only a high risk on the part of the player himself, as opposed to family members, triggers the pay/service time protections built in to the agreement between MLB and the MLBPA.
Zimmerman re-signed with the Nationals on a one-year, $2 million contract over the offseason after being limited to just 52 games due to injury last year. It was thought that if he could not re-sign with Washington that he’d prefer to retire. In light of his opting-out of the 2020 season, it’s very possible that Zimmerman’s big league career is now, effectively, over.