Rafael Devers, right, and Mitch Moreland will have to find another way to celebrate if baseball games are played this summer. A safety proposal from Major League Baseball could prohibit players from high fives and hugs if the season is able to start after being delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

Playing baseball will be the easy part.

That’s what we learned over the weekend as details of the safety protocols proposed by Major League Baseball for the 2020 season began to emerge. The document presented to the players association was 67 pages long and included very specific details about how players will have to conduct themselves if they return to the field this year.

No spitting. No high fives. No hugs after a home run. Preferably no showers at the ballparks. Expanded rosters with players sitting six feet apart in the stands.

Suffice it to say, major league life will be different in 2020. Very different. And that makes it just like life everywhere.

It also makes it, as one player representative put it over the weekend, daunting. These are major changes in the very way the game is played and the very way players conduct themselves.

For the first time in weeks, there were live sports on the air this weekend. In our house, weekend mornings mean European soccer games on TV, and the Bundesliga returned to the pitch to provide the action. There was a NASCAR race in Darlington, and horse racing in New York and California.

All of it was executed without fans. Empty stadiums and tracks provided a stunning reminder of just how different our lives are right now. The broadcasts sounded strange, with competitors’ voices filling the void in the empty fields. Play-by-play announcers were miles (or more) away, calling the action from socially distanced studios – or working from home.

There’s no doubt there were safety hurdles for all of these sports to overcome. In Germany, soccer subs sat up in the stadium wearing masks as they watched the action on the pitch. Players celebrated goals with air hugs and smiles.

A man stands in an otherwise empty grandstand at Darlington Raceway before the Real Heroes 400 NASCAR Cup Series race Sunday in Darlington, S.C. Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

On Sunday, aerial views of the egg-shaped track in Darlington showed nearly 50,000 empty seats. Teams were short-staffed, with fewer members at the track than usual.

And fans, sitting at home and starving for action, loved it. NASCAR was the nation’s No. 1 trending topic on Twitter throughout the afternoon.

And you’d better believe the people who run baseball noticed. That’s why the proposal has been sent to the players with the hopes an agreement can be reached by the end of the month. That would allow players to begin spring training 2.0 by mid-June and games to begin in July.

There is a lot of work to do to make that happen. The safety measures seem overwhelming at times, but everything in the proposal is to create the safest work environment possible. While much has been made about the fight over salaries, players are just as concerned about the risk they face by returning to action.

Tampa Bay lefty Blake Snell didn’t win a lot of fans last week when he told a live audience on a Twitch stream, “I got to get my money. I’m not playing unless I get mine, OK?”

Snell went on to talk about the risk involved in returning to action. Had he kept his comments to his concern over safety he probably would’ve been fine. But there are a lot of people facing serious financial difficulties because of the pandemic and they don’t want to hear about someone complaining that his $7 million salary has already been cut in half.

What they want – what everybody wants – is for there to be a way for baseball to return, safely. Red Sox player representative Matt Barnes joined me on NESN last week and said the players want to play, and that he was optimistic baseball will return this season.

Yet there are others who wonder just how safe that return can be. And this massive proposal to keep it safe made them more, not less, worried about playing this year.

Soon we will hear what the MLBPA comes back with. Only then will we see where the discussion of economics goes. Negotiations in professional sports are always slow. That’s fine. As we’ve learned through this crisis, we all have plenty of time on our hands.

Tom Caron is a studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on NESN. His column runs on Tuesdays in the Portland Press Herald.

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