The baseball world was rocked by COVID-19 news Monday when the Miami Marlins announced that more than a dozen players had tested positive. Since then, the number of players and team personnel that have tested positive has continued to grow while the Marlins’ season has been put on hold.
Fear of the virus spreading also forced MLB to postpone games between the Phillies and Yankees this week, and the Yankees wound up playing the Orioles (Miami’s scheduled opponent) instead. That’s how we wound up with this situation:
Also, the Phillies don't know who they will be playing next week or where those games will be played.— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) July 29, 2020
Now, Major League Baseball has issued stricter COVID-19 rules, per Jeff Passan at ESPN:
Following the coronavirus outbreak that infected nearly half of the Miami Marlins’ roster and prompted the temporary suspension of the team’s season, Major League Baseball is encouraging players not to leave hotels in road cities except for games, mandating the use of surgical masks instead of cloth masks during travel and requiring every team to travel with a compliance officer who ensures players and staff properly follow the league’s protocol, sources told ESPN.
The updated rules, outlined in a memo distributed to teams Tuesday, came as MLB investigates the cause of the Marlins’ outbreak that has seen 16 players and two staff members test positive for COVID-19, according to sources. The Marlins’ games through Sunday have been postponed, and the prospect of their season restarting Tuesday at home against Philadelphia remains in question.
While the league won’t mandate an on-the-road quarantine, players and team staff will be highly discouraged from even going into common areas of the hotel. On buses, the compliance officer will arrange seating charts — and, in some cases, separate groups of friends likelier to run afoul of the 6-foot rule, which the league is treating as sacrosanct along with the adoption of surgical mask use for all. The compliance person, who will be designated with rare Tier 1 credential status given to essential personnel such as players, managers, coaches and training staff, will submit reports and monitor hotels.
These are things that probably should have been done when everyone in baseball first got together for “Summer Camp.” While these might curb further outbreaks of COVID-19, it tells us that the protocols established: a) weren’t strict enough and b) even the protocols that were established weren’t being enforced.
Maybe this will work. Maybe it won’t. MLB has to be cognizant of the fact that a shutdown might be the best idea.
But in the latest SB Nation Reacts survey, fans said they didn’t believe the league has yet reached that point. According to that survey, more than two-thirds of fans don’t think the season should be canceled:
When asked what it would take for the league to shut down, a majority of fans think multiple teams would need to see more than half of their roster test positive.
So the Marlins might resume their season Tuesday after missing an entire week of games. Maybe. The Phillies, who played Miami this past weekend in Philadelphia, are scheduled to play a doubleheader Saturday, as noted above. For now, anyway.
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