Is Major League Baseball treating the Cincinnati Reds differently than they have treated other teams when it comes to COVID-19 protocols with regards to returning to play? Late on Monday night C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic reported that the Reds had no new positive tests once again, but that multiple players could still be held out of Tuesdays game against Kansas City – if the game is played – due to contact tracing.
— C. ???????????? (@ctrent) August 18, 2020
That seems a bit confusing given how Major League Baseball has treated other teams. The Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals are the only other teams to have positive tests leads to games being postponed. Both teams had multiple players and coaches test positive early on, only to see both teams have their numbers jump up high teens of positive tests between players and coaching staff. Neither played games again for about two weeks. As of the typing of this on Monday night at 10:35pm ET, the game in Kansas City is still on the schedule, but that could of course change before the game is played.
The situation between the Marlins and Cardinals, and the Reds, are very different. Multiple tests coming back positive is different than just one. Multiple tests being positive shows clear spread within the organization. One positive test doesn’t show that – but it also does not mean that it’s not happening yet, either. The incubation period between exposure and positive testing does not happen overnight.
But is the Reds situation different than the one that was facing the Philadelphia Phillies, who had their games postponed after they played against the Marlins for a day after it was known that they had positive tests on their team? Yes, it is different – the Reds had a positive test and the Phillies did not. But the Phillies didn’t play for a week after that. Major League Baseball waited to see how their roster continued to not test positive for an entire week, Monday through Sunday, before allowing them to play the following Monday against the Yankees.
The Cincinnati Reds, though, who knowingly have at least one positive test among their players, could be back on the field after just three off days – half as long as the Phillies got off – and could also be playing with a short roster due to contact tracing making some players unable to play for the team on Tuesday.
Why would this play out in such a manner? If the Phillies, with no positive tests, got a week between games due to “close contact” to a team with known outbreaks before they had to return – with a full roster at their disposal, why does Cincinnati with a known positive have to return in half of the time without a full roster of players who have tested negative (acknowledging that the player who tested positive will not be available)?
The Reds and the Royals don’t have a series in the future set up, but the current series is just two games. Both teams share one off day moving forward – September 17th. If this were a scheduling thing where there were just no possible make up date available, the options could be to just nix the series and the teams are playing 58 games – something Major League Baseball has spoken of for both the Marlins and Cardinals if weather, for example, were to take out make up dates in the future given how they have already had to alter up their schedules. But there is a potential date in the future where the teams could play a doubleheader (or even just one game if they were to decide that as long as the players tested negative on Tuesday that they could play the Wednesday game at full strength).
The consistency just seems strange here. It doesn’t really make much sense. And for the Reds, unless they requested the ability to play short-handed instead of using September 17th as a makeup date for some reason, really puts them at a disadvantage if they are having to take the field on Tuesday without a full 28-man roster of players.
Update: August 18 at 11:30am ET
The game between the Reds and Royals on Tuesday has been postponed. There is a doubleheader scheduled for Wednesday evening between the two teams, starting at 5:05pm ET.