ARLINGTON, Texas — It takes a lot to make me quote Andrew Cuomo positively, but a World Series in Texas during the pandemic has me at my limits: “The mask goes over your nose.”
Let me explain what you’ll see if you walk inside Globe Life Field. Clean (but not sterile), climate-controlled, new airport-chic. A life-sized bobblehead of Pudge Rodriguez and Tex Mex at every corner. And, almost everyone you come in contact with at some point taking their mask off.
Some of this is to be expected — gotta eat, right? (Good reason to wait until the pandemic is under control instead of during the still-mounting third wave.) But it’s also people without meals or beverages in their hands maskless, or sitting face-to-face inside bars tucked away from the field and further closed off from air circulation. Meanwhile, even though ticket buyers are asked to sign liability waivers, no one is screened on-site for coronavirus symptoms. A trip to the Apple Store is more strict than one to the World Series.
During the regular season, big league stadiums were far more diligent than Globe Life has been during the World Series, scanning temperatures at the gate and requiring media to confirm whether or not we traveled to a place with a high community spread of COVID-19 — you know, like Texas — or had known symptoms like diarrhea. (Covering baseball in 2020 was … intimate.)
I empathize with workers being tired and sweaty way more than the people dropping thousands on World Series tickets, but even they routinely have the masks under their nose, and on occasion, not being worn at all. And for the first couple of games, social-distancing during batting practice was purely options.
This is not scientific, of course, I am but one person sending you anecdotes and dispatches. But from my experience, the issue is rampant.
The staff at Globe Life Field are the most friendly, gregarious and polite — even the lady that scolded me for running down the escalator after Game 2 — I’ve ever experienced inside a ballpark. But many of them are elderly (read: high risk), the stadium is staffed with guest services workers in stereotypical Wal-Mart greeter range manning escalators and stairs. The only difference between the superstore and the ballpark was that when I went to buy a giant vat of Blue Bell ice cream, everyone was wearing their masks and wearing them properly. Also, no one shared french fries.
For those of you thinking about attending a game next year — even if God forbid, a full house — imagine how hard it will be for ballpark staff to enforce smart safety guidelines with more people. Even with these reduced-capacity crowds, attendees permitted to behave in ways that are expressly banned for players and coaches. This dress rehearsal for 2021 is going miserably.
Think carefully about how much you need live sports. Hulu is right there.
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