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The Cubs/Cardinals series this weekend is in jeopardy, and other MLB COVID-19 news

The season still hangs on by a thread. But for how much longer?

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Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Cardinals’ series against the Brewers in Milwaukee and Tigers in Detroit were both postponed because 13 members of the St. Louis traveling party tested positive for COVID-19.

Thus when the Cardinals host the Cubs Friday at Busch Stadium, they won’t have played for more than a week.

But will that series actually happen?

The Cardinals had hoped to be back in St. Louis by tomorrow (Wednesday) to have a couple days of workouts before they host the Cubs. Given all the things noted in that tweet that have to happen before they can end their quarantine, this weekend’s series against the Cubs might very well have to be postponed. Jon Lester doesn’t think the games are going to happen:

“I would imagine that we’re probably not playing those games this weekend. But I can’t fully speak to that,” veteran pitcher Jon Lester said.” That’s just my opinion. Maybe there’s a way where we flip the schedule around where we’re playing somebody else. I think guys right now just want to keep playing.

“It sucks that we’re dealing with this, but it’s the nature of the beast right now. The league I’m sure will alter the plans going forward. If we’re in St. Louis on Friday, we’re in St. Louis on Friday. We’ll figure it out, and we’ll try to beat the Cardinals and move on to the next day. But right now, as of today, I don’t see that happening.”

There are more details in the article noted in that tweet by Derrick Goold, and I specifically wanted to call your attention to this, quoting Cardinals GM John Mozeliak:

Through baseball’s testing protocols, the Cardinals were able to trace the origin of the outbreak back to St. Louis before they left on the trip, Mozeliak said, though he declined to suggest where the bottleneck occurred that led to an outbreak.

“I don’t know what we could do differently other than not put somebody who is infected on our plane,” Mozeliak said.

We are in a difficult situation, not just in baseball but for everyone in this country. It’s counterproductive to make accusations about how the Cardinals might have contracted COVID-19, without evidence. The linked article appears to indicate that they couldn’t have avoided it and that nothing they did while traveling caused it. Let’s stand down on that, please, and be more sensitive to players/coaches/staff in these situations. They deserve nothing less, no matter which team they’re on.

The other thing MLB ought to stand down on is blaming players for the problems, when ownership and management might have been able to do more, per Ken Rosenthal in The Athletic:

The season appears to be hanging on a thread. Players are opting out almost daily. A new Harris Poll says most Americans disagree with Manfred’s assertion that “there is no reason to quit now” – 58 percent of a nationally representative sample of nearly 2,000 adults from July 31 to Aug. 2 said the league should stop the season. But the financial motives to continue are powerful for both players and owners, and millions of fans remain eager to watch games – and eager for other professional sports to resume – as long as safety is the priority.

But to single out the players? The truth is that the entire country needs to do better. The overwhelming majority of players – according to the small percentage of positive tests MLB keeps trumpeting, seemingly as a point of pride – seem to be taking the virus seriously. If some slip, well, what exactly did anyone expect from a group of 900-plus professional athletes, most of whom are in their 20s and 30s and accustomed to moving about freely?

This is correct. While it’s nice to feel some semblance of normalcy by watching baseball — and certainly the Cubs’ great start has made Cubs fans happy — there are legitimate reasons that the game could or should be shut down right now. The Cardinals’ outbreak of COVID-19 positive tests is just one of them. Players have been taking great risks, as Jon Lester pointed out recently:

“I don’t know Rob’s situation, and I don’t want to put my foot in my mouth on that one,” Lester said when asked about Manfred’s apparent finger pointing at players for putting the league schedule in jeopardy.

“But I do know,” he added, “that not only the players but families are making sacrifices day in and day out — like I said, I don’t want to put my foot in my mouth. I guess I’ll stop there.”

Jon’s been pretty outspoken on the current situation, more so than he usually is, and I think he’s said some important things here.

The summary of the current situation between players and owners was best said by Rosenthal:

Manfred can blame the players. The players can blame Manfred. But if the worst-case scenario indeed occurs, the proper response will be: We tried, but playing through COVID-19 always was going to be difficult. Some people may have been irresponsible, but from the start the situation was fraught with peril, especially with our country failing to manage the pandemic properly.

I love baseball and presumably by you reading these words, so do you. It simply might not be possible for baseball to continue this year. Everyone involved needs to do better if the game’s going to continue. I wrote, before games began, that they’d need 100 percent compliance with the health protocols 100 percent of the time. Even that might not be enough. I wouldn’t want them to continue playing and wind up with a staff member, coach or player on a ventilator.

Stay safe, everyone.

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