BY Art Thiel 07:27PM 07/06/2020

Thiel: Mariners open season in virus’s hot spot

MLB’s 2020 schedule has Mariners opening July 24 in Houston, the hottest of coronavirus hotspots. Maybe by then it will have gone away, like a miracle . . .

The 2020 schedule has Mariners traveling to Minute Maid Park for their opener July 24. / Wiki Commons

For what it’s worth, the Mariners have been told they are booked to start their 60-game schedule of a most irregular season at 6:10 p.m. PT Friday, July 24 against the defending American League champion Astros in Houston, a city whose area hospitals nearly have reached capacity with the overload of coronavirus cases.

By July 24, maybe covid-19 will have disappeared by then, you know, like a miracle.

At the moment, Houston is having a New York City-level crisis, replicating the public-health nightmare that played out in hospitals seen by the world on cable news in April in the nation’s largest city. Now it’s the turn of the nation’s fourth-largest city.

The difference being, New York shut down hard, stayed shut for a long time, and is having a better re-opening. Texas re-opened its businesses in May, and only Thursday ordered its citizens to wear masks, about three months too late.

As Dr. Anthony Fauci put it Monday about America, “We’re knee deep in the first wave.”

The Mariners don’t get to play in New York. In the regionalized scheduling for 2020, they get to play 30 games on the road, in Houston and Dallas, all the California teams — Dodgers, Angels, Giants, A’s and Padres — plus the Diamondbacks in inflamed Arizona. The only National League Wes foe they skip is a trip to Denver against the Rockies.

If your entertainment tastes are all about the hottest hot spots, the Mariners, through no plan of their own except for showing up, are trendy.

The Mariners get to travel twice in the season’ first week — four in Houston, followed by three in Anaheim, before the home opener July 31 against the A’s — part of the 11,813 air miles that ranks third in MLB in this stump of a season. The conspiracy-minded may sense a tingle.

In its exhaustive 108-page pandemic operations manual, MLB has tried to account for, and take action against, nearly every conceivable way the virus might infect players. But it failed to come with an effective counter, therapy or vaccine for stupidity.

The unwillingness of the White House and some governors to enforce CDC guidelines, coupled with the anti-science gullibility of millions of individuals, has created a virus of incompetency all on its own.

Nevertheless, teams will be sent onto planes, though airports and into hotels and ballparks throughout a country that is the shame of the Western industrialized world for its ineptness and foolishness in managing the spread of the disease.

A second U.S. sports-team casualty was declared Monday, when FC Dallas, with 10 players and a staffer testing positive, pulled out of the MLS is Back Tournament in Kissimmee, FL., that begins Wednesday. Dallas was in the same group as the Seattle Sounders, who open their tourney play Friday against San Jose. The Sounders were to have played Dallas in their second game July 15.

Earlier, the Orlando team pulled out of a similar tourney for the National Women’s Soccer League in Utah. Same reason: Widespread infection.

Both tourneys were bubble set-ups, where all teams are quarantined in a single “clean” location for the duration of play with no fans in attendance to minimize the chance for infection. In contrast, baseball is having a go at home stadiums, also without fans, but also without the enforced isolation from family, friends and others who may be asymptomatic carriers.

The Mariners have 40 games against the AL West and 20 against the NL West, hosting each NL team once except for the D-backs. Home-game starts have been advanced to  either 6:10 p.m. or 6:40 p.m., with three weekday games at 1:10 p.m.

From an entertainment standpoint the seasonal highlight figures to be back-to-back, two-game series against the powerhouse Dodgers, a big favorite to win it all — or whatever passes for all in 2020. They play at Dodger Stadium Aug. 17-18, and at T-Mobile Park Aug. 19-20.

The trick for the Mariners, and all of baseball, will be getting to mid-August. Even July 23-24 will be a feat. At least MLB will have the services of the Astros, who likely will be enlisted to help against the mysterious coronavirus, because they a track record of decoding secrets.


  • James

    “By July 24, maybe covid-19 will have disappeared by then, you know, like a miracle.”

    And for Mariners fans this season, “We’re going to win so much that you’re going to be sick and tired. You’re going to say, ‘Please, please, we’re sick and tired of winning. Please let us have at least one loss. It’s no longer exciting to win.’ And I’m going to say, ‘No way, we’re going to keep winning, and I don’t care if you like it or not.’”

    • art thiel

      If Trump had said it in ’01, he’d have been right. Just missed by a couple of decades.

  • John

    Since the opening game is in Houston, maybe the M’s can smack on garbage can lids, during the game, to fight off the Covid-19 and then ride the momentum to a, likely asterisk marked, World Series Championship. If there’s a miracle to happen.

    • art thiel

      Actually, I would like to see the Mariners smack ceremonially some garbage cans in their dugout, just to let the Astros know the pandemic hasn’t wiped out memories.

      • 2nd place is 1st loser

        Live to dream.

      • John

        Maybe do it during the national anthem as a way of doubling the protest symbolism.

  • Husky73

    With then flip flopping that the governor of Texas has done, I wouldn’t count on an opener in Houston.

    • art thiel

      The guv had to call in military medical personnel to help with the overload in San Antonio. From what I read, Houston is about to be over-matched.

  • jafabian

    Canada’s PM, Justin Trudeau, today snubbed a meeting at the White House with Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and the POTUS in part due to the US’s inability to deal with COVID-19. If that isn’t a statement about the pandemic in our country I don’t know what is. It’s simply too early to consider going ahead with non-essential sport entertainment. At a time like this there should be preparation for worst-case scenario but MLB is taking a best-case scenario. If players are to gather in large groups into a Coronavirus hotbed then all MLB owners and executives should enter that burning house with them. Dr. Anthony Fauci said “There’s more than one way to get to the goal you want to get to but one you compromise your principles then you’re lost. You’re really lost.”

  • 2nd place is 1st loser

    Art your prediction of Covid disappearing by July 24th is way off, lest we forget that The Chosen One said it will disappear in April when the heat kicks in. Well I live in Az. with temps hovering around a buck fifteen and the virus is running through the state like scatology through a goose. Apparently the Covid doesn’t care about the heat and neither does the governor here.

    • art thiel

      I’ve read the AZ rate of infection per capita leads the nation. And it’s too damn hot to go outside. Please stay safe, my man.

      Remember when MLB thought about using the ST stadiums in FLA and AZ as hubs for the regular season?

      • 2nd place is 1st loser

        Yes I was amazed that they were actually considering playing at the ST facilities. Even night temperatures can be a health risk to people. Thanks for the safety advise,

  • Lodowick

    Exactly. Covid-19 has stolen a lot from us. But it knows better than to try and steal second on the Astros. The company thieves keep.

    • art thiel

      Unfortunately, there will be no one around to heckle the Astros.

  • SeattleSince57

    Mariners 0-10 in Houston last year? Good luck.

    • art thiel

      Last year was so . . . 2019. This year is so different. The Mariners will win once.

      • Seattle Psycho

        Definitely hear the trash can banging with no fans this year. Without that to help them, I see the M’s getting one win this year in Houston.