Dan Hayes of The Athletic reports that the Minnesota Twins “have been made aware of several positive COVID-19 tests among their players.” He says that none of the players was working out at Target Field or in Fort Myers, so these are presumably all tests from players who were scattered across the country and who will now be converging on Minneapolis. Or, assuming they’re quarantined, near Minneapolis.

Add this to the increasingly long list of teams with multiple positive COVID-19 tests among their players. I suspect that, before too long, every team will find themselves in a similar situation.

In light of these reports, it’s probably a good time to talk about how we are talking about them. Or how we will be talking about them as the 2020 baseball seen unfolds. I was inspired to think of this just a few minutes ago by Eireann Dolan, who many of you may know is married to Nationals’ closer Sean Doolittle. Dolan tweeted a number of thoughts about all of this that I think are worth bearing in mind:

Uncritical analysis of this entire environment of baseball won’t cut it anymore. Treating it like a normal season won’t cut it. At a certain point, if it’s clear that things are risking health or, God forbid, lives, I’m going to have to reflect on my own complicity or enabling.

— Eireann Dolan (@EireannDolan) June 25, 2020

Reading or writing any article on, “how these positive tests impact your fantasy team!” Don’t be gross. Don’t be cavalier with other people’s health. Please remember that it’s not just the athletes getting these positive tests. It’s also the unseen staff w/ far less job security.

— Eireann Dolan (@EireannDolan) June 25, 2020

For this to work (and I think it can), it requires 100% adherence from 100% of the participants 100% of the time for 100% of the season. Everyone has to do everything they can, but that’s a tougher ask of the unseen workers bc they may not have a choice on certain life decisions:

— Eireann Dolan (@EireannDolan) June 25, 2020

Yes, athletes are young/healthy. But there are thousands who work in and around this baseball workforce, and not all of them are young, healthy, or millionaires. The ones who stand to suffer most and bear the brunt of responsibility most are the ones paid least and seen least.

— Eireann Dolan (@EireannDolan) June 25, 2020

To be clear, this isn’t just the task of the sports writers/broadcasters. It’s on all of us to remember the full context and stakes: athletes, families, media, fans, the league. We can’t pretend this is normal baseball because it’s not normal baseball, as much as I want it to be.

— Eireann Dolan (@EireannDolan) June 25, 2020

The notion of “traps” we can fall into in discussing this stuff is key here. It could be really easy to filter these stories of players testing positive for COVID-19 the same way we would a hamstring injury or a pulled oblique. To give little thought to what the player or family of the player is going through and immediately autopilot to “what does this mean for the Dodgers rotation.” Or, perhaps, to use them as the launchpad for jokes that all of us fall back on at times. Things like the Yankees’ insane run of injuries in the past couple of seasons and say something like “oh look, the Yankees have ANOTHER player out of commission!” Or, if a Mets player tests positive, to say “actually, the Mets just thought he had a sore elbow but it was COVID.”

With baseball injuries that kind of thing is understandable even if there’s an argument to be made that it’s borderline distasteful. It’s a different deal altogether with COVID-19. It’s not a virus these players would inevitable get. Going forward the people inside the game who get it are likely going to be getting because of the decision to proceed with the 2020 season. It’s likewise not something that only affects them and it’s not something that only affects their ability to play baseball. It’s serious business for the player, for their families, for team employees and their families, and even if the cases are minor, symptoms-wise, it could potentially impact a lot of people’s health for years.

In light of that, treating COVID-19-related news as if it, primarily, impacts a baseball team and its competitive standing as opposed to human beings and their families is the wrong way to go. We’re going to try to do our best to properly contextualize that news and to not view it solely as a thing that matters only by virtue of how it impacts the sport. We hope you all do as well.

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