Coronavirus Crushes Autograph Seeking Dreams
Coronavirus is running rampant in parts of the world, and it’s changing the way a lot of things are running. There are travel advisories. Quarantines. The South By Southwest festival just got cancelled. People are apparently finally washing their hands for the first time because store shelves are barren in the soap and cleaning aisles.
But there are some brave souls that are still traveling to Spring Training to get their baseball fix in amid this COVID-19 business. Maybe if they’re lucky, they’ll even rub elbows with players as they’re out and about in the cities they’re visiting like the time that I was in Fort Myers for Spring Training with some friends and Johan Santana was so excited that I knew who he was, that he bought my friends and I rounds of drinks all evening. (This was back in 2003 before he was a starter and the badass Cy Young winner that he eventually became, so he wasn’t very well known just yet.)
Unfortunately for the brave Spring Training travelers this year, there will be no elbow rubbing with players.
MLB is advising teams not to take pens or items from fans for autographs. They should also refrain from giving high fives, handshakes, hugs, or other typical fan greetings. Boo.
For now, some lucky fans might get a pre-signed ball tossed to them in the stands:
With players discouraged from signing autographs at spring training because of coronavirus fears, a number of teams are starting to have players sign balls in the clubhouse before games so they can flip them to fans in the stands. Seems like something every team should consider.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 5, 2020
While disappointing for some fans, I think the bigger disappointment would be half of a team unable to start on opening day because they’re all sick. Or worse.. Opening Day/the 2020 season being delayed because of a worldwide pandemic. Sigh.
WASH YOUR GODDAMN HANDS, PEOPLE.