Monthly Archives: April 2020

I’m A Little Confused

So, I am excited that baseball might not be canceled for the season. For starters, I love baseball. Secondly, America could use its national pastime to get things back on track. Sure, we need to be smart and safe. Sound science and public health must be of paramount concern. But am I missing something?

Dr. Anthony Fauci recently told reporters, “Nobody comes to the stadium. Put [the players] in big hotels, wherever you want to play, keep them very well surveilled. … Have them tested every single week and make sure they don’t wind up infecting each other or their family, and just let them play the season out.” ESPN wrote about the public health experts comments: https://www.espn.com/espn/story/_/id/29038491/dr-anthony-fauci-promotes-single-site-fan-free-return-sports.

I get the whole no fans thing. I understand reducing travel and having everyone in one or a few cities. I understand reducing physical contact (as much as possible) and testing players. I understand waiting until testing of players and MLB personnel doesn’t put a strain on essential medical testing.

What I don’t get is the whole put everyone in hotels and keeping them from their families notion. Let me get this straight? You have a bunch of world-class athletes who are mostly in their 20s and 30s. Most are in pretty good physical shape with limited  high-risk health factors for COVID-19.

Many MLB players have young families. I doubt their wives are going to be excited about being quarantined from their husbands for months. While COVID-19 can impact younger people, everything I have seen suggested that the highest risk is for people over 50 years old and with health conditions. The virus mostly has limited impact on children and teens.

So, the people who are most at risk in MLB are the owners, managers, coaches and other club personnel. MLB can take precautions to reduce their exposure to players and other people. More meetings can be held remotely using technology. Managers or coaches can stay in the stands or in a booth away from players. MLB could install phones that are monitored to allow greater communications when physical distance prevents sign communications. And if somebody is a player or other club personnel with adverse health risks, extra precautions can be taken for them including masks, barriers, etc. If someone is really concerned about the health risk, they can take sick leave or work out other arrangements with the MLB club. Balls and strikes would be called by robo umpires. DH for both leagues to reduce impact on pitchers and allow for a compressed schedule.

Players can move to Arizona for 2-5 months with their families. They would probably rather rent homes instead of be in hotel rooms. But they could do that too if they would prefer. The social and psychological impact of being separated from families for months would likely be an incentive for them to agree to social distance restrictions for their families as long as they can still work and still be with their families. Most players and baseball personnel probably want to get back to work if possible. And I think they would probably rather take the COVID-19 risk than be separated for months from their families.

MLB could set up a COVID-19 testing and treatment facility in Arizona to handle testing and care for players and club personnel and MLB staff. MLB would monitor everyone in the baseball bubble and enforce guidelines, such as compliance with statewide social distancing and other best practices. Families of those in the baseball bubble may have to abide by strict social distancing for those outside of the baseball bubble. But these restrictions would be reduced as it makes sense. Players and personnel who test positive would be treated and put in quarantine for the appropriate time period. MLB baseball could also require anyone in the bubble to be tested or quarantined if any family in the bubble develop COVID-19 symptoms.

Likely a bunch of players will come down with the virus although most will have minimal symptoms. That is why MLB clubs should add another 4-10 players on the active roster to fill in gaps.

Forcing players and club personnel to separate from their families seems like a safety precaution that won’t significantly reduce public health risks of the baseball bubble. At the same time, it would put significant life, family and psychological strain on everyone involved. Why put in rules that don’t really make everyone safer if it damages the quality of life?

Baseball is important. But family is more important. I believe that MLB can find a way to protect the health of everyone in the bubble while allowing players to play ball and stay with their families. Sure, there will be risks. But there are risks no matter what you decide with COVID-19.

Basically, I like a lot of the ideas being suggested in the Arizona plan; I would just expand the bubble to include families. This may mean more transmission in the bubble, but that may be hard to stop regardless.

 

Zoom Zoom… Back in Time

Mix Leadership Team Zoom Zoom

Sometimes you don’t know how amazing a group of people are until you are no longer together. I felt this way the other night while on a Zoom call with my former youth group leadership team. We were missing a few characters. But these people all in some way impacted my life and the lives of many amazing students.

Doing youth ministry is a calling, but it is also a blessing — especially when you get a chance to share unforgettable experiences with young people who you know are going to leave a legacy in the world.

So, I wanted to just brag a little bit on my old team.

PD (Daniel Susenbach) – He was the leader of the pack, the eternal optimist. Daniel has never met a stranger. He is the kind of guy who can make you bust a gut laughing and then believe you can do almost anything the next minute. He is one of my best friends, and if I had to be stranded on deserted island with a group of people, I certainly would want him there.

Tim Matthews (Timmmmmm!) – I think he could literally preach the cover off a Bible, and the young people would be like, “Oh man! Do that again.” Tim knew how to say something that you never forget. He also has an amazing life story, and is a ton of fun. With Tim, you know that following Jesus is never boring. {Tim is not in the picture, nor was on the Zoom call 😦  } Next time Tim, next time.

Joanna Fowler (Mrs. J) – She was always the cool mom and administrator. She made us all look good by being prepared for almost anything. Some people who had her job would be kind of by the book. But she always laughed and made everyone feel special. Mrs. J. was the adult in the room who knew how to keep everyone safe. At the same time, she was able to connect with students.

Jim and Melinda Patterson – Yes, these are two people not one. But they are such a great team. They are an amazing couple who I count as very good friends. I love so much about them, especially how different they are from each other. If I was going into spiritual warfare, I can’t think of a better servant and prayer warrior than Jim (P. Diddy). He knows how to get to the root of the matter, and he is willing to go deep and be there for youngsters. Jim is very wise and loves to pun. I even love that about him (just don’t tell him). Melinda is always the voice of reason in the room. She loves people enough to tell them the truth. And she never seems to let much get to her. Oh, and the Pattersons are hilarious when you see them interact together. I chuckling just thinking about some of my discussion with them in their kitchen.

Mama Karen – She was like a mother or older sister to so many of the Mix students. She has always been a youth worker rockstar.  Oh, and she is a great cook. Three words “Baby Angel Cake.” Inside joke, but trust me… so good. Karen is full of love and her name should be caring because she is like 90% heart. Karen knows how to be a safe person in a world full of unhealthy people.

Heidi – Speaking of funny. Literally, I don’t know if I have ever laughed around somebody so much as Heidi. She always knew how to put the truth in a joke. But don’t let her shenanigans fool you, she was wise and knew how to see through student’s crap. Plus, she has this way that her eye twitches when she is upset. It’s sort of like a super power that keeps her from going insane. Heidi connected well with students and is an amazing friend.

Mike Jefferson – Mike really loved the middle school students. In the dictionary under the word “Faithful” is a picture of Mike. Full of the Spirit and always willing to forgive, Mike is one of those guys who makes a bigger impact than anyone realizes. I learned a lot from his gentle demeanor and approach to ministry. He does have a mental disorder because he is a Washington Redskins fan. But nobody is perfect. 😉

Diane Burns – Always represented how parents might feel well in our discussions. She is an amazing prayer warrior who was willing to be there for students. She raised three world-class kids, who are now adults. She has been a super volunteer for years.

Bryan and Darla – Students loved Bryan, and he connected well with some of the outsider kids. Super witty and smart, Bryan is very competitive. He challenged me to be a better youth leader… just don’t tell him I said that. Darla is also competitive and smart. We once played a game of assassin with rubber bands, she killed me by pretending she wanted to have a spiritual discussion. {I never forgot that Darla.} Darla is very logical and dependable. She is just a super solid person who will do what she says she will do.

Super Honorable Mention: Charlie Coker, Emilie Hyatt (Coker) and so many others…