MLB learns to handle the speed and deception of COVID-19, but it may be too late to save the 2020 season
The word “multiple” is very useful. Was it three, four, five? Just say several. In circumstances where specificity is not required, that word gets the job done.
However, in the era of COVID-19, it is a word full of dangers, as several are so often linked to ‘positive tests’. As in “The St. Louis Cardinals game against the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday was postponed because multiple card players tested positive for coronavirus.” That is not an example. That happened.
So we are again shaken by our hopes that certain elements of our society can continue without being undone by the pandemic. It is not clear how many Cardinals players are affected, or whether that could affect their most recent opponent, the Minnesota Twins.
What is clear is that baseball is beginning to realize that hope is not a plan.
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When the Marlins entered the field last Sunday after three positive tests in two days – which eventually spread to 18 players – it was a complete failure of the club to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation and the competition to maintain the necessary protocols in the case of multiple players from a given team had to test positive. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that there was no item on the occasion of multiple positive tests from one team in the 113-page document outlining the protocols the sport would follow. That helped transform the episode of Marlins into an epic disaster.
That the Cards and Brewers will not be playing on Friday is a positive step, as is Passan’s report that MLB is now pushing itself with a stricter plan to tackle the virus: asking players to leave their road hotels only to play games, what requires surgical masks for travel instead of cloth masks and the establishment of a “COVID” officer to check that players and team personnel follow MLB protocols. MLB told Sporting News that the protocols are meant to be a “living document,” meaning there is room for adaptation or improvement, but there should have been a higher foundation to start.
You may wonder if the adjustments made arrive late to bring this game to its scheduled end.
MLB showed amazing, but not unprecedented, arrogance in the way it structured its return to play. The patrons seemed to have argued over money for three months, then three days to smash the plan to launch the season.
MORE: Everything You Need to Know About MLB and Coronavirus
As DK Pittsburgh Sports’ Dejan Kovacevic pointed out, his absurd baseball has arranged his 60-game schedule according to the typical short series routine. If the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox were to play 10 games, it should have been two series of five games: one at Yankee Stadium and one at Fenway Park.
Instead, there’s the complicated arrangement that the Sox brought to New York this weekend for a series of three games, then a four-player in mid-August, followed by three games in Boston in late September. Not only is this unbalanced, it requires another team trip than necessary. That’s just one example of two teams. Multiply that by all 30 teams and all their different opponents. The Yankees have a few series of two games against the Braves. If it were okay if there were imbalances, why not fix them by eliminating two games and converting them into series of four games in a particular team’s park?
In fact, baseball determined that it was worth planning exhibition games prior to the start of the season that required team travel, which may be why this mess – or at least this breach of baseball mess – started. Like everyone in the league has forgotten how to grab a bat and need three fantasy games as a reminder?
It’s hard to believe that Opening Day’s promise and optimism only visited us a week ago. There’s been a lot of baseball in the meantime, but almost as much concern about how the Marlins are ravaged and how the league has since had to criss-cross the schedule – and how many occasions of ‘multiple’ positive tests could force the season to quit, rethought or leave.