At the close of Opening Weekend, the cracks in Major League Baseball’s plan started to show.
The Miami Marlins scratched Sunday’s starting pitcher Jose Ureña due to COVID-19, and with three other Marlins testing positive, the club altered its plans to fly home from Philadelphia.
Over in Cincinnati, Matt Davidson tested positive for coronavirus after playing in the opener, and Mike Moustakas and Nick Senzel were scratched from Sunday’s game after feeling ill.
Now the clubhouse dominoes are falling, and now so are the games.
The Marlins’ home opener against Baltimore is postponed because 12 players and two coaches tested positive for COVID-19. Having just left Philadelphia, the New York Yankees expressed reservations about being the next team to play at Citizens Bank Park. That game is now postponed.
I don’t know where the league goes from here. If the season couldn’t last a weekend without one team having to replenish a roster, it’s hard to see how it get through the remaining 57 games without it looking like a meat grinder. At the same time, Major League Baseball refused to put a strict outbreak course of action in its protocol. The Korean Baseball Organization had an automatic two-week shutdown in its plans, but MLB seems intent to power through obstacles with sheer will despite the implications (the early testing foibles, relocating the Blue Jays), so I don’t see Rob Manfred backing down immediately.
The teams might not be inclined to give in, either. The Marlins didn’t give a second thought to playing Sunday’s game despite the hazards, which is the public-health equivalent of Reynaldo López’s private-health issue of trying to finish the first inning on Sunday with an increasingly sore shoulder.
But even if the schedule slogs on, this will have reverberations around the league.
Don Mattingly said the regular season was a whole different world than the training camp bubble they all enjoyed.
“It feels safer in Miami than anywhere,” Mattingly said. “You feel safe at the ballpark; I feel safe with my surroundings going home. It’s a lot scarier on the road.”
In Cincinnati, Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire — an at-risk individual given his age (62) and bout with prostate cancer in 2017 — expressed concerns about what his team was exposed to while playing the Reds.
“Those are the moments we talk about in taking care of yourself,” Gardenhire said. “You know it’s going to happen at some time or another. It’s unfortunate and myself, a Tier 1 guy (with the highest team access) who’s been through a lot, when I started hearing that I get nervous. I really do. I can honestly tell you that. I start thinking about it awful hard.”
The Cubs are the next team headed to Cincinnati, and they’re wondering what they’re going to find.
“We were just talking about it, some of the guys,” Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said about a half-hour after the game. “It’s definitely something to be concerned about; if a clubhouse guy went over to their locker room, things like that, and making sure that locker room’s deep cleaned.
“I’m definitely going to be paying attention to the [Reds weekend opponent] Tigers now to see if a couple guys pop positive.”
These quotes jumped out to me as the White Sox embark on their first trip out of Chicago since the season was put on hold. They’re starting a three-games series in Cleveland tonight, and reporters are saying the league has no wider plan to hold up the greater schedule. Everything, however, is subject to change.
(Citizens Bank Park photo by Eric Okurowski)
This happening right now, before thousands of schools go back to in-person classes (and HS/college football games) may serve as a lesson that keeps us safer in the months ahead. Alternately, we don’t learn from our mistakes, with horrific results.
I teach 6th grade at a junior high of 1200 students. Trust me, I can’t wait until we open the doors in 3 weeks…
It’s insane that anyone is urging you to open. Stay safe!
You can’t have activities involving large numbers of people traveling around the country every 3-4 days with the virus still not under control. You just can’t. But MLB won’t be the one to call things off – by continuing to play even when there’s a clear outbreak, they are placing the onus on local health authorities to make the decision to cancel games. The sad conclusion to all of this will be when local authorities in an area that has relatively low COVID levels revokes permission for the games, effectively bringing the season to a halt. That’ll probably happen in a week or two, during which many people will have been exposed.
That was the Federal government of Canada position. I can’t blame them.
Looks like Independent Baseball has been able to play some games – in Joliet, Rosemont, etc. Not sure how it is going healthwise. Maybe MLB bit off more than was wise in trying to stick close to normalcy.
Are they travelling? Staying in hotels?
I haven’t followed this all closely but am curious about these games.
A 4 team league was cobbled together in Joliet so isn’t traveling. That includes some current minor leaguers
The American Association has been playing some kind of limited hub system with fewer teams, but there is some travel. Scanning the media, they did have at least one postponement but they have managed to continue
Not travelling decreases the chances of contracting the virus considerably.
Taking it all very seriously also helps. And we don’t know what is really happening. More proper mask wearing would be a start
I find astonishing that Manfred still has a job. I feared this was gonna happen, but not this soon. A fustercluck after merely 3 games. Just cancel the season. There is absolutely no good reasons to keep this facade going. If I was Gardenhire, I will opt-out. Nobody’s health is worth this trouble. Renteria is 58…also kinda not to be trotting out there in suspected clubhouses.
The problem is not mainly the “Plan” MLB tried to put on track. The main problem is that the entire USA is a hot spot, and sorry to my fellow Americans, but a better job could/should have be done over there. The US has the resources to correct on the fly, but I am still waiting for timely corrections in a country that waited this long to start seeing the benefits of a face mask. Anyway, let’s no make this political. I did enjoy the three games, and will continue to watch if the season persists in going, but I highly doubt we will see its end.
Baltimore team is currently flying to Miami but I just read that will return immediately upon arrival. That’s not a good sign.
My mantra has always been “Bad baseball is better than no baseball” but given the situation now, I may have to rethink that. Didn’t think I’d be saying it but they probably should just shut it back down before things get even worse. 3 teams impacted by 1 team actually affected, who knows what’s next?
I am not up to date over the financial details of this season, but will the owners be on the hook for the players remaining year salary should the season be cancelled?
If human lives mattered more than millions/billions of dollars we wouldn’t be playing baseball right now…