The NBA is Back
The NBA returned to play finally over the past few days. The first night last Thursday featured two games and went great. Both games were hotly contested providing excitement for starved fans. The rest of the weekend was equally entertaining as well.
The production quality of watching these games is obviously different, but it is tough to complain. Baseball’s return by comparison has been tougher for fans to get used to. The sport regularly features shots on TV of the stands which are now empty, and the best excitement of homeruns is lost when landing uneventfully in the bleachers. Basketball benefits from tighter shots of the action, so you don’t notice the absence of fans. Even so, the NBA did a better job at recreating fans in the stands with virtual fans on the sidelines utilizing Microsoft Teams. MLB uses cardboard cutouts of fans.
The viewing experience isn’t the only difference between the two sports’ return. MLB almost immediately faced issues with controlling COVID-19 cases. The season opener itself was affected when news broke hours before first pitch about Washington Nationals star Juan Soto testing positive. Soto believes it was a false positive. Following the first weekend, an even bigger issue erupted with an outbreak within the Miami Marlins team. The Marlins situation led to a cascading effect of game cancellations for teams in contact with them.
This situation exemplifies the fragility of baseball’s season. MLB is not operating within a bubble. The teams are traveling, and it is much easier for players and personnel to slip in following rules. The St. Louis Cardinals are now dealing with increasing cases. And after Yoenis Cespedes failed to report for the New York Mets game on Sunday, the team learned he was opting out for the season.
Now it is still early for the NBA, but the hope is that the bubble that the league created in Orlando will save it from the issues that baseball is facing. Logically, it makes sense that it should work. It wouldn’t be surprising if the NBA is more successful at avoiding COVID-19 cases in the bubble. Based on odds though, it is hard to imagine them completely avoiding any cases.
Hopefully, it can be kept to a very low minimum compared to what MLB is facing which threatens the season. For the NBA though, it is so far so good.