The asterisk that will be accompanying the 2020 section of the sports record book in the United States keeps getting bigger, bolder, and heavier.
The global coronavirus pandemic has made holding sporting events in the traditional sense a thing of the past, at least until this entire debacle passes. There are no fans in the stands anywhere but NASCAR at the moment, and those events are restricting attendance and enforcing a number of social distancing rules.
For other, more intimate sports like basketball and soccer, the plan is to keep the fans away, sequester the athletes away in a “bubble”, and utilize neutral sites to hold competitions where the fear of outside infections is minimal.
Not the MLB, however. No, the national pastime decided to implement only the bare minimum in travel restrictions and COVID precautions, and now their entire 2020 season is going up in flames just a week after it began.
The 2020 season is not even a week old and already MLB has a COVID-19 crisis on its hands. As many as 17 members of the Miami Marlins, including 15 players, have tested positive in recent days. The outbreak forced Monday’s and Tuesday’s games in Miami and Philadelphia, where the Marlins played this past weekend, to be postponed.
In an effort to minimize disruption to the season while containing the outbreak, MLB has revised the schedule to isolate the Marlins and Phillies for a period of time, the league announced Tuesday afternoon. Both clubs are currently undergoing additional testing following their series at Citizens Bank Park this past weekend.
“The health and safety protocols were designed with a challenging circumstance like the one facing the Marlins in mind,” MLB said in a statement. “The response outlined in the joint MLB-MLBPA Operations Manual was triggered immediately upon learning of the cluster of positive cases, including contact tracing and the quarantining and testing of all of the identified close contacts. The Marlins’ personnel who tested positive remain in isolation and are receiving care.”
The flippancy of the league’s attitude is concerning as well.
MLB will try to make up all postponed games later in the season via doubleheaders and eliminating off-days. If it’s not possible, MLB is prepared to allow teams to finish the season with an unequal number of games played, and determine the postseason field with winning percentage, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
For sports fans who waited patiently the the first wave of COVID-19, this whole 2020 debacle sure feels like a swing and a miss.
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