The COVID-19 outbreak in the Marlins organization continued to grow Tuesday with reports that four more players had tested positive, bringing the total to 15 players and two coaches. That’s half of the 30-man roster with a positive test since Friday. Nationals players voted against traveling to Miami this weekend, which might not have even mattered since the Marlins are still quarantining in Philly, and Major League Baseball made the decision to postpone the Marlins’ games through Sunday.
A statement from MLB also noted that the remaining games between the Phillies and Yankees were being postponed and that the Yankees will play the Orioles in Baltimore on Wednesday and Thursday. Additional schedule changes for the week of August 3 will be announced later in the week. No Phillies players have tested positive and MLB said that none of the over 6,400 tests conducted since July 24 have yielded a positive result for on-field personnel of any of the other 29 teams.
“The difficult circumstances of one Clubs reinforce the vital need to be diligent with the protocols in all ways, both on and off the field,” read MLB’s statement. “We will continue to bolster our protocols and make any necessary adjustments. The realities of the virus still loom large, and we must operate with that in mind every day. We are confident that Clubs and players will act appropriately, for themselves and for others, and the data provides reason to believe that the protocols can work effectively.”
That last line is a doozy, especially since one club has had 15 players test positive since July 24 while the rest of the league has had zero positives in that time. Either someone is lying or the Marlins did a really shitty job of following the protocols. Given their talk about how there was never a doubt about playing the opening weekend despite mounting positive test results, it’s hard to argue that they’ve been taking this seriously.
You also have to wonder how this situation might be different if it was happening to a team anyone actually cared about. The Marlins are little more than an afterthought, with Derek Jeter operating as a figurehead allowed by MLB to legitimize a shoddy ownership group. Would this all be glossed over if Jeter’s old team was being forced out of action by an outbreak of its own?
The Yankees are being impacted, though it’s only with the loss of two games that can probably be made up at some point. The Marlins could miss at least seven games and it looks like the Phillies will miss at least four, though perhaps the Nats can head to Philly to play what should have been their weekend set in Miami. We’ll find out more on that later.
Where this whole thing gets really difficult is at the end of the season, when several teams end up playing fewer than 60 games and the playoffs are determined by winning percentages. Yes, I’m taking a leap in even assuming we’ll have a postseason in the first place. That’s probably the best argument going for expanding the playoffs to 16 teams, since mere percentage points are going to separate several would-be participants.
There’s also a matter of player salaries, since the agreement under which they’re playing says that “additional interruption or delay” will result in pay being based on games played by the player’s club. That could mean a lot of cheddar when you’re talking about missing more than 10% of the season.
One more thing on those protocols: How in the blue hell is the league allowing teams to be put up in full hotels, some of which are housing wedding celebrations? To say nothing for the choices of the individuals having and attending such events, how teams or the league would allow their coaches and players to be in that environment is beyond me.
The rest of the league doesn’t seem to have missed a beat yet, but MLB can’t take another team or two pulling a Marlins this season. Even if you want to brush aside the health risks, the logistics of having to postpone and/or reschedule several more teams’ games within a compressed window are just too much to work through.
In conclusion, just wear a damn mask and don’t put yourselves in unnecessarily risky situations.