Rogues keep season hopes alive
Medford Rogues general manager Dave May is all about being proactive these days.
He spent a good portion of Thursday pulling weeds and landscaping around his house, something he rarely gets to do at this time of year given all he’s used to doing around Harry & David Field in preparation for the collegiate wood-bat summer baseball season.
May and his cohorts in the Golden State Collegiate Baseball League (GSCBL) have been proactive on the baseball front as well recently.
Despite various forms of quarantine for active board members due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the group came together this week to notify fans that the GSCBL has unanimously decided to proceed with 2020 season plans, with the caveat that it will closely monitor state (California, Nevada and Oregon) and federal guidelines during the pandemic.
“We’re still 60-something days away from our home opener so we still have time,” said May. “Fortunately for us, we have that on our side at this current moment.”
The first scheduled games are May 28, which is only 18 days beyond clearance of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mandate made March 15 that in-person events of 50 or more people be postponed or canceled for the next eight weeks.
With daily changes regarding the impact of the coronavirus, the GSCBL set an April 14 meeting to reconvene and determine the league’s course of action.
“We all want to play, definitely,” said May, “but we all understand the pandemic that we’re in as well. The big thing is we’re following it closely and we’re not going to put anybody in danger. We’ll bag our season before it ever got to that, no matter how much that hurts us.”
The April 14 meeting is partly due to the needs of the Rogues and the Yuba Sutter GoldSox, who are the only franchises in the eight-team league that provide an enhanced experience at games with fans, concessions and in-game promotions.
“I have way too much as far as pocket schedules and programs and theme jerseys and fireworks nights and all the things we have going on,” said May, whose Rogues finished runner-up to Top Speed Baseball for last year’s GSCBL championship. “I have to be proactive in working with the companies to make sure we either, A, get it, or, B, get it canceled. April 14 is kind of the date that’s my last date that I still can put everything together. That still gives me six weeks to mad dash if I needed to for our May 28 home opener.”
That time frame also will be helpful for the incoming players for each franchise, who had their regular college seasons abruptly halted last week and are in limbo.
“That still gives the athletes six to eight weeks to make sure they’re still in playing shape,” said May, “and it also allows for us to get things done from an operational standpoint.”
Through regular conversations with Rogues manager Bill Rowe, who is heading into his first year with the program, May said all signs point to the players being eager to get back on the field, whether that’s for a full or abbreviated season.
“The message I’m getting from coach Rowe from the kids is that they’re chomping at the bit ready to go regardless,” said May. “They want to play because they did just get their season cut short.”
May said the Rogues’ two dozen or so committed players have regularly checked in with Rowe for updates on the status of the season, and all seem to feel the break in play from the regular season to the summer season won’t carry much of an impact.
“I think the players will be fine, they’re 19- and 20-year-old kids,” said May. “If they’re doing the right thing they’re still getting some work in, whether it’s by themselves with a net and a tee in a cage or something. We trust all these guys. I’m sure their college coaches are having conversations with them still and making an impact on the athlete one way or another. We assume everything is going to be fine when and if the athletes do make it to Medford.”
Should transmission of the coronavirus not lessen to an apporpriate degree, May said he’s also working on a 42-game schedule that would begin June 14 and allow for six games per week in a seven-week span.
Obviously, May hopes none of that extra work will even be necessary.
“We don’t want to jump to any conclusions by any means, we’re taking it day by day,” he said. “That’s what all Americans should be doing right now is following the word of the CDC and taking it day by day, and hopefully there’s baseball in May.”
The Rogues front office is currently closed, and its operating telephone number (541-973-2883) is diverting calls to May’s cell phone during a self-imposed quarantine.
“I think everybody needs to be inside and really watch out for this thing,” said May, “because if the government and local officials are putting these kinds of restraints on it, and there’s only this few amount of cases here, obviously there’s a potential for a lot more and that’s what we’re trying to avoid.”
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry.