Jeff Passan of ESPN reports that our worst fears have been realized: eight more players and two coaches with the Miami Marlins have tested positive for COVID-19. This in addition to the four who were sidelined with positive tests over the weekend. As a result, the Marlins home opener against the Baltimore Orioles has been cancelled. The club is remaining in Philadelphia, in quarantine.
This development is a dire. And not just for the Marlins home opener or even for the health of those who have tested positive for COVID-19. It, as we wrote earlier this morning, puts the viability of the entire season in question.
It also shines the spotlight on Rob Manfred.
As we noted earlier today, Rob Manfred and Rob Manfred alone has the power to cancel games or shut down operations if COVID-19 begins to pose a serious risk to players and those surrounding them. Yesterday the Marlins took the field despite more than 10% of their active roster having already tested positive and despite the fact that the results of several COVID-19 tests for their teammates remained outstanding. How many of those players had close contact with Phillies players? With stadium staff? With bus drivers? With hotel staff? Why, when a big chunk of the roster was already positive and more tests were outstanding, were they allowed to circulate freely like this? These are questions Rob Manfred is morally and ethically obligated to address. This is especially true given that multiple epidemiologists characterized the decision to allow the Marlins to play yesterday as irresponsible even before knowing how many more players had been infected.
Major League Baseball premised the very idea of playing baseball during this pandemic on adherence to strict health protocols and claimed, over and over, to consider the health of players, team and stadium workers, support staff, and their loved ones its top priority. Now that an entire team has been sidelined less than five days after the season’s first pitch — and now that having allowed them to play looks like a horrible idea — Major League Baseball must explain why it shouldn’t suspend all operations immediately.