Major League Baseball is currently torn between two ideas — offering fans a bit of normalcy with a 60-game season; and trying to keep its players safe and healthy amid a pandemic.
Just a few days into the season and we’re already learning just how tough that is going to be. It didn’t take but four days for the season to devolve into chaos, with some fans and pundits calling for MLB to cancel or pause the 2020 season.
Nothing that extreme has happened yet — “yet” being the keyword because one season has been paused and the developments we’ve seen in just the short time since opening day suggest other outbreaks will be hard to prevent.
The 2020 MLB season was born out of coronavirus chaos, and like it or not, it will likely be ruled by coronavirus chaos that the league won’t be able to predict or control.
With that in mind, here’s the running timeline of just how complicated coronavirus has made the 2020 season:
Tuesday: Marlins season paused after 4 more positive tests
The Marlins became the first — and probably not the last — team to have their season paused because of coronavirus. Four more positive tests revealed Tuesday brought them up to 17. Fifteen of those are players, which account for half of their 30-man roster. The league stepped in to give the Marlins time to regroup and go through testing results while shuffling the schedule to keep other teams playing. The Marlins will end up missing at least a week’s worth of games.
Tuesday: Nationals vote not to go to Miami
Before the Marlins’ season was halted, the Washington Nationals looked at the prospect of visiting Miami for the weekend and said, “no, thanks.” The team took a vote Tuesday and the “vast majority” didn’t want to go play the Marlins in their home stadium. Now, a team vote doesn’t actually have any authority on the matter. But it was at least a signal to MLB and its fans that the Nats didn’t feel safe. It was the first such objection we’ve seen by a team during MLB COVID season.
Monday: Phillies quarantined after Marlins series
The Phillies found themselves tied up in the Marlins drama more than they would have liked. After the Marlins outbreak reached 13 people, the Phillies were forced to get additional testing, quarantine and have their games against the Yankees postponed. The early results for the Phillies were encouraging — no initial positive tests — but they still have to be cautious since the virius’ 14-day incubation period means they’re not in the clear yet. Additionally, the schedules for the Yankees and Orioles got tied up in this.
Monday: Marlins hit ‘outbreak’ level with 13 positive tests
The Marlins became THE story in sports Monday when their positive tests rose to 13, including players and coaches. It was inevitable, really, that baseball was going to see something like this happen while not playing in a bubble. The quickness with which it happened — five days into the season — proved startling for sports fans everywhere.
Sunday: Marlins play despite four positive cases
The bad news for the Marlins started Sunday, when four positive tests were revealed — including one to that day’s starting pitcher. In retrospect, the Marlins case, like the Davidson case, can prove just how tough baseball can be amid testing. When it takes two days to get test results, players will take the field without knowing whether they tested positive or negative, putting their teammates and opponents at risk.
Friday: Matt Davidson plays for Reds between test and positive results
The Reds’ Matt Davidson was the first player to show us the danger in the testing process. Davidson played Friday, on Cincinnati’s opening day, between a test day and a results day. The worst-case scenario happened: He discovered on Saturday that the test he took on Thursday came back positive. The effects were immediate, as Mike Moustakas and Nick Senzel both reported not feeling well Sunday and haven’t played since. We haven’t heard officially whether they’re infected or not, but Moustakas is on the IL.
Friday: Braves lose both catchers on opening day
The same day as their opening day game vs. the New York Mets, the Atlanta Braves lost their top two catchers because of coronavirus symptoms, which at the time seemed like a tough problem for a team to handle. This is why teams have taxi squads ready to go. The Braves were being cautious since neither had tested positive, but they’re not with the team.
Thursday: Juan Soto gets positive diagnosis hours before opening night
Baseball lost one of its premier young talents hours before its nationally televised opening night game. Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals tested positive Thursday morning, before the Nats played the Yankees to start the season. He had been tested Tuesday and got the bad news on game day.
July 6: Fourth of July testing delayed for many teams
The first hiccup in the MLB restart plan came on July 6, and it set a tone for how complicated some of the coronavirus testing would be. Numerous teams had problems getting their test results back following the Fourth of July weekend. One team had testers not show up. Because it was early in the process, some teams canceled ensuing practices because they didn’t have test results. Players and executives were upset, particularly because Fourth of July was a holiday that could have been planned around.
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