‘You have to start somewhere’: Playoff plan provides a path for MLB to have fans in 2021

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ARLINGTON, Texas – It’s been eight months since the United States began grappling with the novel coronavirus, mitigation ranging from casual to militant, lessons missed and learned along the way as the disease killed nearly a quarter-million Americans.

For Major League Baseball, returning to some semblance of a life it once knew – not just games, but fans, not just TV revenue, but paying customers – has been going on all of one week.

The league welcomed fans into the stands for the first time over seven games of the National League Championship Series and beginning Tuesday night with Game 1 of the World Series, will fill Globe Life Field to 25% capacity for the matchup between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays.

The roar of an actual crowd – even a diminished crowd – has been a balm for major league players forced to generate their own adrenaline through a 60-game season with no fans. And as deaths related to COVID-19 continue apace, the game is entering what may be a lengthy bridge period – easing out of a total shutdown, yet far away from full capacity with a widely-distributed vaccine likely not available until well into 2021.

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