MLB players union discusses opening season in empty stadiums, Angels' Andrew Heaney says

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MLB players union discusses opening season in empty stadiums, Angels' Andrew Heaney says

The Major League Baseball players union has discussed the beginning of the season by playing games without fans in baseball fields to hasten the return to normalcy, Angels pitcher and union representative Andrew Heaney said Tuesday.

“Baseball really shows why it is the national pastime in similar situations, in difficult times,” he said during a conference call from his home in Edmond, Okla. “For me, that’s when baseball sports tense its muscles. I think as players we understand that too.

Heaney hopes baseball can display that restorative effect.

“Therapeutic is a bit overboard, but it can be very helpful for people in difficult times, going through difficult situations, to turn on a game and watch their team play.”

Heaney confirmed what union leader Tony Clark said last week that the MLBPA is “very open” to playing in empty stadiums. Playing games on neutral sites and playing split doubleheaders is also being considered.

In addition to representing the angels on behalf of the union, Heaney finds it difficult to avoid boredom. Nearly 20 days have passed since MLB was halted during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Heaney has made a decision about his ability to cope.

“Such situations,” he said, “I am not well rested.”

Many people listen to government advice to stay indoors, take the time to start a hobby or refine an artistic talent.

But Heaney?

“To be honest, there is not much to improve,” he said. Just exercise and watch movies and TV. But get good at Monopoly. I think that’s something. “

Nights tackling a list of top 100 movies and achieving Monopoly wins have not scratched Heaney’s itch to return to his sport. He hasn’t even been able to get into video games, like another Oklahoma State product and temporary housemate Garrett Williams, a pitcher that the Angels bought from the San Francisco Giants in their December deal from Zack Cozart.

An aerial view of Los Angeles during the time of the corona virus.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

The only activity that has almost suppressed Heaney’s appetite is watching videos of old baseball games, especially those from 9/11. Heaney, 10 at the time of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, grew up in a house outside of Oklahoma City without a cable. He made television signals with a rabbit ear antenna and pieces of aluminum.

He has often used those memories in the weeks since spring training was canceled.

“I remember seeing the Mets and Yankees in the Subway Series, [President George W.] Bush throws out [his] first throw after September 11 and then that World Series, ”he said. “I actually watched those videos at night to remind myself a little of how much I enjoy watching baseball and baseball.

“I think those things have a lasting effect. And it always feels like – because baseball [is played] every day it always looks like it’s there when you need it. “

Meanwhile, Heaney will continue to develop his own routine with his wife, Jordan, and house guest. He met a newborn niece. He has enjoyed the Oklahoma spring that he has not experienced since he was drafted in 2012.

Heaney and Williams also took advantage of the quiet street outside Heaney’s house to play catch. They lift weights in Heaney’s garage. They plan to find catchers to catch bullpen sessions through their college connections. They do physical therapy as much as possible.

Staying motivated was no problem. Occupying free time has proved to be a greater challenge.

“I probably haven’t played a video game in fifteen years,” he said. “We downloaded MLB: The Show. I played like myself. I am awful. … I don’t play video games. I don’t do art. I don’t play instruments or anything like that. So I’m just sitting here a little bit. “

Times staff writer Bill Shaikin contributed to this report.

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