With outbreaks taking the Miami Marlins out of commission until at least Tuesday (Bill Shaikin of the LA Times just reported this is when they will resume), and now the Phillies (set to resume Monday, also from Bill Shaikin) and Cardinals also being out of commission for an unknown amount of time, Major League Baseball has been in a situation of trying to figure out what they can do on the fly. This morning, Rob Manfred reportedly told the sports networks to have alternate programming ready just in case the season is postponed or cancelled. That’s never a good sign for where things are at.
While the Marlins situation is grim in nature with more than half of their active roster having tested positive for COVID-19, and the Cardinals having three players and three staff members test positive in the last 36 hours, there is obviously a reason to try and look at options of shutting things down if that worsens for either team, or more teams follow along the same path.
However, despite the morning call to the sports networks, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred told ESPN’s Karl Ravech “We are playing. The players need to do better, but I am not a quitter in general and there is no reason to quit now. We have had to be fluid, but it’s manageable.”
Comissioner Rob Manfred tells me “We are playing. The players need to be better, but I am not a quitter in general and there is no reason to quit now. We have had to be fluid, but it is manageable.”
— Karl Ravech (@karlravechespn) August 1, 2020
I’ve got a lot of questions about this statement here, but let’s start with the first sentence: We are playing. That means that right now cancelling, or even putting the season on hold for a short period of time to adjust some things isn’t really on the table.
He’s right – some of the players do need to do better. Rules were adjusted on Friday by Major League Baseball and the Players Association to try and do just that. But what’s missing from this is that Major League Baseball also has to do better. They seemingly have tried to wing this from the very beginning, focusing far more on fighting with the players over how much money they would “lose” rather than focusing on trying to come up with a better health and safety plan.
As for the part where Rob Manfred said he’s not a quitter, well, I guess I have to ask: Who cares? It’s not Rob Manfred’s health and safety that’s at stake here. It’s the players, team personnel, and all of their families health and safety at stake here. That Rob Manfred doesn’t think he’s a quitter is entirely useless in this statement.
Let’s talk about it being manageable. By-and-large, in the first week of the season, most teams have managed the situation. But we’ve also seen what happens now when the virus gets into a team’s clubhouse – it spreads. We knew this because we’ve known about how this is highly contagious for basically all of 2020. It’s virtually impossible to spend as much time together as athletes do, in the way that they do, while traveling as well, and manage the virus once it’s been introduced. If you can manage to keep it out, things will go well. If they don’t, it’s very likely to spread.
We’ll see how things continue to go. After having their own scare with Matt Davidson testing positive, but subsequently testing negative on every other test and being re-instated in less than a week, it seems he had a false positive on a rapid test. Baseball is going to trudge along, hope for the best and try to adjust schedules if and when needed.