It’s rare that a link in the classified ads provides the source material for my daily, but, and this is probably not unexpected, the speed at which professional athletes are testing positive for coronavirus is starting to get a little problematic. Yesterday, Rays outfielder Tommy Pham announced he is positive but asymptomatic. Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman tested positive over the weekend and is reportedly very sick.
No Cubs players have tested positive so far, but last week pitching coach Tommy Hottovy spoke about his battle with the infection and how he and his family were affected during and after his prognosis. The Twins, Red Sox, and Rockies are among 20 teams that have announced at least one Tier 1 or 2 employee has a confirmed case of COVID-19. The Phillies had seven players and one staff member test positive three weeks ago.
“It’s going to be a challenge for everybody,” right fielder Bryce Harper said in a recent interview. “You’re still playing for your teammates and fans watching at home. They’re all excited to see us play. I’m still going to play my same game, I’m still going to pump my fist. They deserve my best… We’re going to have as much fun as possible.
“The fans might not be in the stands, but they’re watching from home. There’s things we have to do and we just have to go about it the right way. The ‘air high-five’ will come back and be the coolest thing in sports. It will be different for everybody, but we’ll transition the best we can and transition to a new style of [the] game.”
Despite the soldier’s mentality take by Harper, a lot of players have tested positive for COVID-19 in a short time, confirming fears of its swift transmission. That test results were delayed for the entirety of the Fourth of July weekend can’t be comforting to those involved with the game. Let’s face it, social distancing and professional sports creates something of a contradiction. We’ve yet to reach the start of NFL training camps, something that portends a potential nightmare based on our current environment.
Kris Bryant's full answer on testing issues we're seeing throughout baseball right now, which includes this quote, "I wanted to play this year because I felt that it would be safe and I would be comfortable. Honestly, I don't really feel that way." pic.twitter.com/1BdbHrPWWJ
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) July 6, 2020
Though Hottovy and Freeman are the only known Tier 1 designees to report the more serious coronavirus symptoms, and though the mortality rate of those testing positive continues to drop, we don’t know with any certainty the long term effects of carrying the virus. What if a player, staff employee, or a member of their families dies? I don’t wish to be foreboding, but based on the league’s player population and the current rate of positive testing and subsequent mortalities, it’s entirely possible that grave news may lie ahead.
According to the CDC, “the overall percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 increased from 8.1 to 8.7 percent nationally” over the last week, driven by increases in seven regions that are currently peaking. With approximately 1,800 players assembling to restart the 2020 season, we can theoretically expect that 150-160 or more could potentially be infected. The COVID death rate has varied from 1.2 to 3.3 percent, meaning it’s not inconceivable that a player or family member may succumb to the disease.
That we are crossing our fingers that that doesn’t happen just to play some baseball seems awfully perplexing to me.
Cubs News & Notes
- Kris Bryant reiterated his love for Chicago and his desire to sign an extension with the Cubs.
- Bryant was openly critical of the league’s coronavirus testing protocols.
- David Ross expressed concerns with the league’s failure to expediently deliver COVID-19 test results over the weekend.
- Our own Evan Altman got the jump on the MLB Network, announcing the Cubs 2020 schedule well before last night’s televised “event.”
- Based on strength of schedule, the Cubs have a slight advantage over all of their National League opponents. The North Siders project the league’s third-best winning percentage (.533).
- The Cubs and White Sox will have six regular season tilts plus two exhibition games at the end of Summer Camp.
- The Cubs will wrap up their 60-game schedule with seven road games, including a crosstown showdown against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate stadium to end the regular season. World Series preview?
- The Cubs will open the season at home against the Brewers, and though the game will be televised on ESPN, it will be presented locally by Marquee only, meaning if you live in Chicago’s viewing market and your provider doesn’t carry the team’s new network, you will be unable to watch at home.
- Though I don’t think there is any real home field advantage for games played in empty stadiums, I can’t help but feel somewhat avenged to see the Cardinals will play 14 of 20 games against the Cubs and Brewers as the road team. St. Louis basically eliminated the Cubs from the postseason last year.
- Albert Almora Jr. is concerned about his father, who currently resides in Florida, one of the nation’s current hot spots. Albert Sr. is 70 years old and a prostate cancer survivor.
Find Your Inner Hero
Jason Heyward continues to be a team leader and true social warrior. Early this year he donated $100,000 to COVID-19 relief, and he recently volunteered to embrace his role as educator of social injustices and the Black Lives Matter initiative.
Odds & Sods
If you are handicapping NL Cy Young candidates in a shortened season, Yu Darvish should be one of your favorites.
Yu Darvish in the second half of 2019:
• 13 starts
• 118 K
• 7 BB
• 81.2 IP
He's ready to lead the starting staff in 2020. https://t.co/4uk0yMaisy
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) July 6, 2020
Apropos of Nothing
How will the Astros muffle the sounds of trash-can banging during home games played at an empty Minute Maid Park?
MLB News & Notes
A mid-June birthday party held for an unnamed MLB player reportedly became a “spreader” event for COVID-19 in Florida.
New Angels skipper Joe Maddon, in full boomer mindset, chimed in with a perplexing take concerning Trout’s reservations about playing a 2020 season. “Everyone is talking about the high-risk individuals opting out,” Maddon said. “To me, the person who should opt out is the person who does not want to follow the protocols. That’s not been reported enough, I don’t think.”
Dave Schoenfield of ESPN highlights some of the better matchups in this season’s 60-game schedule. including the Cubs-White Sox series August 21-23.
The Reds, like every team in baseball, hope to get off to a fast start. I’m already tiring of that mantra.
Brad Robinson hits the nail on the head.
Maybe it’s because I work in news and am constantly inundated with virus stats, recommendations and analysis… but I just can’t bring myself to being comfortable with MLBs attempt to have a season.
— Brad Robinson (@bradrobinson8) July 3, 2020
They Said It
- “I feel like it’s a little insensitive to be talking about big dollars and stuff like that when people are losing their jobs and their lives and stuff like that. I’ve never been the type to be super selfish and want the attention on me to sign a contract. There are bigger problems right now.” – Kris Bryant
- “Honestly, I still don’t feel that comfortable. It’s gonna be tough. I’ve got to be really cautious these next couple weeks. I don’t want to test positive. I don’t want to bring it back to my wife. It’s a tough situation we’re in.” – Mike Trout
Tuesday Walk Up Song
Psycho Killer by Talking Heads – Are the majority of us really on board with a 2020 MLB season? Qu’est-ce que c’est?