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Confidence in MLB’s COVID-19 Experiment?

How much confidence do we have in Major League Baseball’s COVID experiment? It can’t be high after it was announced four members of the Miami Marlins tested positive for COVID-19 following their weekend series with the Philadelphia Phillies. Remember this is just four days into this abbreviated 60-game season; a season where teams are still travelling to cities and stadiums across the continental United States. 

So now it has been announced that two games have already been postponed for tonight (the fifth day of the season); the game in Philadelphia between the Phillies and the Yankees while the Marlins game versus the Baltimore Orioles has also been scratched. The official line from Major League Baseball is the following:

“Tonight’s scheduled games between the Miami Marlins and the Baltimore Orioles at Marlins Park and the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Yankees at Citizens Bank Park have been postponed while Major League Baseball conducts additional COVID-19 testing.”

Additional testing? Shouldn’t that have been done before these games? It goes on to say the members of the Marlins’ travelling party are quarantining in place while awaiting outcomes of test results. Are they in Philly? At home? Regardless, it is doubtful they will be near a baseball park to play a major league baseball game anytime soon. 

What’s more, Major League Baseball goes on to say the postponement of the Yankees-Philly game is out of an abundance of caution, given the Marlins completed a series in Philadelphia over the weekend.” The word “abundance” should be replaced with the word “appropriate”. This feels a lot like the Wednesday in March when the NBA suspended their season indefinitely after a player, Rudy Gobert, tested positive for COVID-19 and everything seemed to cascade from there. Now we are 4 ½ months on and while sports and a decent portion of society seems to be coming to grips with this “new normal” in which we find ourselves, organizations like MLB seem to think they can float above and beyond the pandemic. 

So where does this leave us? Being a baseball player right now can’t be a comfortable place to be. You’re young and healthy, and have a short career to make the most of all the hard work and sacrifice you have made. But you want to keep your family safe and going to work everyday not only separates you from them but may keep you from them for longer than planned. There is a big financial incentive to play the game and even more existential threats to the league as a whole for not playing. But if a large number of players start getting the virus, then they simply can’t play. It has to be hoped the league and players’ association considered these worst-case scenarios before restarting. It seems to go against how they have conducted themselves so far but they aren’t masochists and they aren’t stupid. So let’s hope they did consider the worst-case scenario because that scenario might be upon them.