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MLB could be at risk of shutdown by Monday, says Rob Manfred

Six teams won’t play Friday, and four of them won’t play this weekend.

Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Baseball has had some success in re-opening after a four-month hiatus, but even more so there’s been trouble with several teams having outbreaks of COVID-19, as well as one club becoming road warriors because they weren’t allowed to play in their home country.

Per Jeff Passan at ESPN, this could potentially result in the sport shutting down as soon as Monday:

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred told MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark on Friday that if the sport doesn’t do a better job of managing the coronavirus, it could shut down for the season, sources familiar with the conversation told ESPN.

Should another outbreak materialize, Manfred, who has the power to shut the season down, could move in that direction. Multiple players briefed on the call fear that season could be shut down as soon as Monday if positive tests jump or if players continue not to strictly abide by the league’s protocols.

To be more specific:

This is something that we’ve all noticed, the high-fiving and spitting in particular. Granted, these are habits deeply ingrained in baseball players and it’s hard to change those things. Once players get into competitive mode, it’s a natural thing to want to celebrate good happenings on the field with your teammates.

But they just can’t do that, not now, anyway, not if they want to keep playing.

The Cubs have done a reasonably good job of staying COVID-19 free, except for the notable cases of coaches Tommy Hottovy and Mike Napoli. Ian Happ came up with an idea for a “players only curtain call”:

Happ’s vision is for all the Cubs players to leave the dugout when a teammate homers and sit in the stands — which are already being used by some players for social distancing — as he rounds the bases. After the teammate returns to the dugout, he’d have no one to congratulate him but instead would have his fellow Cubs going wild in the stands.

Soon, he’d take a curtain call, at which point the Cubs would then return to the dugout.

Sounds fun, but these sorts of things only work if players keep their social distance at all times, not just during home run celebrations.

It’s also been said that some players have been at hotels while traveling where there are weddings going on with many guests and no social distancing. Perhaps MLB could have put players at smaller hotels where they could have controlled all the rooms? There’s one of those right across the street from Wrigley Field, for example. Granted, the Hotel Zachary isn’t the Ritz-Carlton type of hotel players are used to, but maybe in this situation MLB could have been more proactive.

Or maybe they could have used the three-state bubble idea to reduce travel. The bubble idea appears to be working for Major League Soccer, the NBA and the NHL.

MLB, so far, has had to call off 15 games due to the pandemic, and we’re only a week in. Seems to me they’ve got to fix things very quickly or shutting down will be the right thing to do.