Coronavirus: Dr. Anthony Fauci says he wants baseball back 'for the country's mental health'

Jack Baer
·3 min read

He might be cautioning some leagues that they could have to skip a season, but make no mistake. Leading coronavirus expert Dr. Anthony Fauci wants baseball back just as much as the rest of us.

[ Coronavirus: How the sports world is responding to the pandemic ]

The top public health expert on the White House Coronavirus Task Force gave another sports-related interview on Wednesday with a player he is quite fond of: Washington Nationals great Ryan Zimmerman.

Fauci himself is a fan of the Nationals.

While discussing a range of topics with Zimmerman, Fauci clarified that he does hope baseball will return at some point this summer, and not just because of his own fandom.

From Kyley Schultz WUSA 9:

"I hope there is some form of baseball this summer," Fauci told Zimmerman. "Even if it's just TV – & I am saying that not just as a baseball fan. I mean, it's for the country's mental health to have the Great American Pastime be seen."

Fauci recently conceded to The New York Times that some leagues might have to accept skipping a season if the public health outlook doesn’t improve. Even with improvements, it will likely be a while before fans can attend sporting events as they once did.

How MLB can return, according to Dr. Fauci

Fauci outlined two ways he sees baseball coming back with Zimmerman. The first should be quite familiar with baseball fans, the often-floated bubble league in which players are tested, isolated and play out the season in an empty stadium.

The other option was similar but at least allowed some fans in: limit crowds to every fourth or fifth seat and encourage social distancing. Neither option is perfect, nor are they without risk.

Fauci praised where the United States is with regard to antibody testing, particularly with one aspect:

"It's better. We started off slow – and there were a lot of mishaps that we have to be realistic and humble to admit," Fauci responded after Zimmerman asked about antibody testing and reopenings. "But right now, we've done something that the United States has done better than anybody else: we've engaged the private sector."

Officials everywhere have been apprehensive to give a firm estimation for when the sports world and so many others are allowed to return. Constant questions remain, and it’s a given that some things will have to be sacrificed on the road to something resembling normalcy.

Fauci was at least willing to lend some optimism that things will be better by fall, and used the Nationals’ improbable 2019 World Series championship as an analogy:

"I never guarantee anything unless it's done," Fauci said. "I believe cautiously and optimistically, that by the time we have to prepare for the fall and the winter, we will be prepared."

"It's kinda like how I am talking to you, baseball legend," Fauci said in response to Zim's question about U.S. testing. "How the Nats were in the beginning of the season – people were saying, ya know, you're messing up! But you're getting better and better and better and guess what? We won the World Series. So there ya go."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House, Monday, April 13, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Dr. Anthony Fauci wants baseball to return, and not just because of his fandom. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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