MLB, Players Face More Questions Than Answers as Season Hangs in the Balance

MLB, Players Face More Questions Than Answers as Season Hangs in the Balance
Lynne Sladky/Associated PressA season that started with everyone on guard now has pushed things on high alert.The Miami Marlins are back to work this week after becoming the first team to botch MLB’s health and safety protocols and have a COVID-19 outbreak. A total of 18 players tested positive after the season’s opening weekend, and…
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Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter, left, talks with president of baseball operations Michael Hill during baseball practice at Marlins Park, Wednesday, July 8, 2020, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

A season that began with all and sundry on guard now has pushed issues on excessive alert.

The Miami Marlins are aid to work this week after turning into the fundamental crew to botch MLB‘s health and security protocols and relish a COVID-19 outbreak. A total of 18 gamers tested particular after the season’s opening weekend, and for his or her sequence at Baltimore this week, the Marlins added 16 gamers who weren’t on their roster final week.

The St. Louis Cardinals were on aid, in quarantine in a Milwaukee hotel unless lastly being cleared to shuttle and return to the arena by MLB on Tuesday night time, after 13 individuals of their touring birthday celebration—alongside side seven gamerstested particular for COVID-19

The outbreaks induced six teams20 percent of the leagueto sit down inactive over the weekend: St. Louis, Miami, Milwaukee, Washington, Philadelphia and Toronto.

Decrease than two weeks into this abbreviated baseball calendar, the sport faces a crisis: Neatly-kept up the mess and continue pushing toward October, or ask the season be consumed by a plague that as yet has no treatment.

Through on-the-hover rule changes (seven-inning doubleheaders) and hurriedly adding an addendum to that immoral 113-page operations handbook that largely focuses on health and security protocols, MLB is frantically working extra time to strive to manufacture an extremely fragile abbreviated season work.

Will or no longer it be sufficient?

“Observe, thus far, unfortunately, we now relish handled this the identical blueprint our country has handled this,” acknowledged Brewers supervisor Craig Counsell, whose crew sat inactive this past weekend reasonably than taking half within the Cardinals. “We put collectively these pointers and protocols that were nicely-intentioned, after which we handed them off to 30 particular person operators, i.e., states, and requested them to attain their finest.

“Adherence to a arena of protocols and solutions and making an try to acquire it correct has simply no longer long gone nicely. It simply hasn’t long gone nicely. And it be on chronicle of this virus is an even searching, sophisticated opponent. It’s put us unhurried the eight ball.

“I desperately desire to play and attain the season. It is so fundamental for thus many of us in so many locations. But it absolutely’s no longer going nicely correct now. It’s not any longer.”

Can relish to or no longer it be going better?

Perhaps that is dependent for your point of look. Derek Jeter, the Marlins’ chief executive officer, conducted a uncommon press conference this week wherein he denied any “salacious” say by his crew. He admitted, nonetheless, that Miami developed a “misleading sense of security” all the blueprint thru Spring Practising 2.0, when no one tested particular, and added that the gamers became lax in wearing their masks and following protocols.

Jeter published that the Marlins “had about a folk leave the hotel” and acknowledged the crew’s review certain it modified into once “to acquire espresso, to acquire dresses. A man left to relish dinner at a teammate’s dwelling. … There modified into once no hanging out at bars. No clubs. No running around Atlanta.”

Catcher Yadier Molina is one of six players the Cardinals said had tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days.

Catcher Yadier Molina is one of six gamers the Cardinals acknowledged had tested particular for COVID-19 in recent days.Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

“With any luck, this has been a wakeup demand all and sundry, no longer finest on our crew but for the leisure of baseball and sports actions in widespread,” Jeter acknowledged.

With any luck. Because as nicely-intentioned as baseball has been in making an try to, ahem, cowl all of its bases, what we now relish all discovered is that one single error can sabotage a total crew.

The league despatched an up thus far, four-page memo to all 30 clubs in step with the Marlins outbreak, a duplicate of which modified into once obtained by B/R. Amongst the aspects of emphasis: Wearing masks is wanted in clubhouses earlier than and after games (some clubs are acknowledged to had been doing a higher job with that than others, hence the adjustment). Every person touring now have to put on “FDA-authorized surgical masks” on all flights and bus trips.

Moreover recent this week, particular person clubs have to designate a compliance officer who travels with the crew and can inspire in enforcement of health and security protocols and file weekly reports to MLB. Amongst other responsibilities, the compliance officer is “accountable for monitoring the final public areas of the hotel (e.g., eating locations, bars, health centers) to remind gamers and workers that they ought to easy no longer be utilizing those companies.”

“I’m hoping of us understand at what took set to us and they also employ it as a warning to watch simply how swiftly here is able to spread between a explicit neighborhood once you happen to’re no longer following the protocols 100 percent,” Jeter acknowledged. “You cannot let your guard down in anyway. That is the base line. We’re battling one thing here that’s invisible. You cannot observe it, you create no longer understand how it starts, but once it will get there it has a possibility to spread swiftly.”

No longer even two weeks into this shortened season, baseball’s agenda already looks love a stretch of asphalt that misplaced a battle with an ice storm. There are pockmarks far and big and internal acknowledgments that it goes to be a Herculean roar to acquire every membership to 60 games. The Marlins, for instance, having finest played three games thru Tuesday, would relish to play 56 games in 54 days. The Phillies would moreover relish to play 56 in 54 days. The Cardinals, even within the event that they are cleared to renew taking half in when their next sequence begins Friday at Busch Stadium, would relish 55 to play in 52 days.

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Realistically, division standings tend to be lumber by winning percentage, as some clubs will play 60 games and others will topple short of that. A aspect roar to the coronavirus now may well maybe per chance be aggressive integrity: If Crew A wins the division by the usage of the next winning percentage yet plays four fewer games than Crew B, that’s going to switch down love a shot of vinegar. Especially if Crew B is diligent about following health protocols.

Already, some gamers, love San Francisco starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija, voiced displeasure with Commissioner Opt Manfred’s assertion to ESPN’s Karl Ravech over the weekend that “the gamers have to be better.” Amongst Samardzija’s aspects: “Somebody with smarts who has been staring at, we’re the ones out there hanging ourselves in possibility on the arena. It’s easy to verbalize issues love that from up high.

But because the actions of gamers relish an affect on their chums, the fissures seem to be rising between gamers, too, on the roar of internal most accountability.

“We did all the pieces correct, and we paid for it,” frail outfielder Andrew McCutchen suggested The Athletic’s Starkville podcast after his Phillies were forced to sit down inactive for seven days starting final Monday following their exposure to the Marlins in a game on July 26. 

“I modified into once upset at all the pieces that’s transpired thru that—whoever determined to step out or no longer essentially follow the health and security protocol. That upset me. … We followed all of the health and security protocols. We knew that modified into once fundamental. We understood that’s what we wanted to attain as a blueprint to play this game. … I am sitting here at dwelling, staring at 28 to 27 to 26 other teams play, and we’re sitting dwelling—all [testing] unfavourable, by the manner. And now we relish to ask this happen while we did nothing execrable.”

The Chicago Cubs are the finest crew with zero particular tests since consumption sorting out began with the resumption of Spring Practising 2.0 final month. The Los Angeles Dodgers relish made it a masks work as a crew and aid every other responsible, as frail Justin Turner publicly disclosed over the weekend to SportsNet LA sideline reporter Alanna Rizzo:

But one more roar most seemingly simply up forward revolves around motivation. Aggressive teams love the Dodgers and Cubs may well maybe strictly adhere to protocols for a possibility to take a title, while one other clubs that advise in self belief to topple out of the race may well maybe became extra lax, in particular on the road, where the temptations are higher. Or they may well maybe simply observe a raft of gamers opt out of the season. After which, consider that, if there are extra outbreaks, extra games shall be misplaced.

MLB thus far isn’t any longer fining gamers for breach of the listed protocols. Indeed, making an try to play baseball thru a plague is an extra special grief, and all and sundry is finding out as they slouch.

But all the pieces at final returns to economics, and games misplaced to COVID-19 expose a various financial predicament. While the unsuitable negotiations earlier this summer within the discontinuance resulted in an expose from Manfred to play a 60-game season—and pay gamers full per-game salaries for every of those 60 games—what happens if a crew plays 57 games? Or 54? Trace the gamers finest acquire paid for those games, or will they be paid for the total 60-game season?

Up to now, all indications are that gamers shall be paid for a full 60-game season regardless. But when some test particular and trigger extra games to be canceled, one lever MLB may well maybe pull is to threaten the infected teams with pay finest for nonetheless many games they’re ready to play.

No person wants that. The alive to hope is that, unbiased just like the fundamental weekend of uneven sorting out on July 4, issues snug out from here.

But it absolutely’s onerous to watch how taking half in games with dozens of personnel who favor to shuttle amid a plague affords the leisure near snug crusing. Which is why the how has became amplified within the cases of the Marlins and the Cardinals. Did these outbreaks occur on chronicle of no longer all gamers followed the protocols, or did all and sundry adhere to the foundations and the virus easy caught them?

The broken-down would not essentially point out issues would be foolproof if all and sundry followed the lawful procedures, but no longer lower than it affords the chance that the season can attain an inexpensive conclusion within the event that they attain.

If it be the latter, nicely, we may well maybe simply no longer relish many extra weeks to switch.

Yes, there are cheap questions as to whether or no longer the sport ought to easy even be making an try to play thru a plague. And lumber, there are those who claim here is completely a money clutch. But there moreover are aspects to be made that the strive is rate it: One relish a look at the giant tv scores on ESPN, Fox and TBS affords credence to those who roar the country wants the sport as an outlet correct now in a time of excessive fright and stress.

“One of many fundamental, necessary issues we can attain is to relish reasonably empathy for our gamers,” Jeter acknowledged, turning in a priceless reminder to all of us that per chance ought to easy attain beyond simply the Marlins’ borders in this country. “They’ve been with a virulent illness for which there isn’t any longer any treatment rather then to race its course. Our gamers and coaches went into this knowing that their health is on the line.”

He added: “You’re seeing how swiftly here is spreading no longer simply in our clubhouse, but it be spreading across the country, across the arena. Here’s no longer restricted to a Miami Marlins grief. Obviously, taking a understand aid, guys would relish completed reasonably better. They would relish saved their masks on. They would relish social distanced. But we acquire a possibility to reset and open up all the blueprint thru again. We’re fortunate as a blueprint to relish that opportunity.”

Less than two weeks into the season, Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain decided to sit out the remainder of the schedule over concerns regarding the coronavirus.

Decrease than two weeks into the season, Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain determined to sit down out the leisure of the agenda over concerns concerning the coronavirus.Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press/Associated Press

Within the times on chronicle of the Marlins’ and Cardinals’ outbreaks, two BrewersAll-Giant establish Lorenzo Cain and pitcher Shelby Miller—became the most modern gamers to opt out. These within the industry quiz the trickle of gamers opting out to continue all the blueprint thru the season and emphasize that the decisions ought to easy be greeted with empathy and working out.

They moreover continue to search out meaning and pleasure in what they attain and roar to continue to search out a route to total this season.

“Fully. I am taking a understand forward to getting to 7 o’clock once we acquire to play again,” Counsell acknowledged. “That’s once we acquire to attain what we love to attain. I grasp it is for gamers, too.

“It’s the suitable time of the day. We acquire to compete and ignore what’s going on on and, with reasonably luck, put on a correct expose for those at dwelling.”


Scott Miller covers Valuable League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Document. Adjust to Scott on Twitter and advise baseball.


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