NASCAR had to cancel, but entire MLB in New York would be OK?

Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, Watkins Glen, NASCAR (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, Watkins Glen, NASCAR (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images) /

The NASCAR race weekend at Watkins Glen International had to be canceled. But New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is open to hosting the entire MLB.

Toward the beginning of July, rumors swirled that the NASCAR race weekend at Watkins Glen International in mid-August could be in jeopardy.

The Xfinity Series had been slated to compete at the eight-turn, 2.454-mile (3.949-kilometer) natural terrain road course in Watkins Glen, New York on Saturday, August 15, and the Cup Series had been slated to do the same on Sunday, August 16.

Under New York’s current coronavirus restrictions, individuals traveling to the Empire State from certain states across the country must quarantine for 14 days.

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“As an increasing number of states around the country fight significant community spread, New York is taking action to maintain the precarious safety of its phased, data-driven reopening,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

North Carolina, where most NASCAR teams are based, has been and remains on this list, and the sport was unable to secure a waiver to make the race weekend happen. So as speculated, it was then announced that this race weekend would not happen as planned and that these two events had been relocated to the Daytona International Speedway road course, where no NASCAR races have ever been contested.

Now skip ahead to today.

MLB action recently got underway after the start of the 2020 season was delayed by nearly four month as a result of the pandemic. Not even one week into the season, the Miami Marlins experienced a COVID-19 outbreak during their series with the Philadelphia Phillies, causing multiple games to be postponed.

As a result of additional COVID-19 positive test results within other organizations, a total of eight teams have now seen their schedules altered since the season began.

While the MLB did not adopt a bubble format like the NBA and the NHL, which have also gotten underway after their seasons were suspended indefinitely back in March, the league has managed to press on and continue to play.

Now Cuomo has offered the entire MLB to play in the state of New York, according to NY1.

“Here’s my suggestion: I understand the challenges they are facing; New York State could host any Major League Baseball game that any teams wants to play, and they can play those games in our stadiums,” Cuomo said Tuesday during a press briefing.

“We will set up a health protocol. They could fly their team in on a private aircraft. They could go from an airport to a hotel where they would be quarantined. We could test everyone.”

NASCAR’s cancellation of the Watkins Glen International race weekend in itself was scrutinized by many, and justifiably so; New York’s infection rate is now below 1%, and we are still two weekends away from when the event was scheduled to take place.

But this offer just makes that cancellation look worse.

When this race weekend was canceled, there were 16 states on the mandatory quarantine list. Now there are well over twice as many at 36 (including Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico).

There are 27 MLB teams that play their home games outside of the state of New York (Toronto Blue Jays not included among these 27 since they are in Buffalo for 2020). The state’s other two teams are the New York Yankees and the New York Mets.

Of those 27 teams, 23 come from one of these 36 jurisdictions. The only four that don’t are the Phillies (Pennsylvania), the Pittsburgh Pirates (Pennsylvania), the Colorado Rockies (Colorado) and the Detroit Tigers (Michigan).

But Cuomo is willing to make an exception for those teams that come from states where COVID-19 cases are increasing. Essential workers are not subject to the same quarantine rules, and he is willing to make a new category for baseball players.

“For baseball players, teams coming in to play, we create a third, separate, new protocol,” he added. “It’s very restrictive. You can only come in to play ball.”

But you can’t come to race stock cars.

Not even on a single two-day trip.

Under MLB’s new 60-game scheduling format (900 total regular season games), teams from the National League East play teams from the American League East. The same is the case for the Central and West divisions.

The Blue Jays, New York Yankees and New York Mets are all in the East divisions, with the Blue Jays and Yankees playing in the American League and the Mets playing in the National League.

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Of the other seven teams in the East division, a whopping six come from one of these 36 jurisdictions. The Phillies are the lone exception.

So already, there is more travel in and out of New York in regard to the MLB than there would have been for NASCAR — and that’s without moving the whole league into the state.