Unlike the planned precautions underway in the NHL and the NBA where a quarantine “bubble” has been instituted to help protect player health, no such practices were undertaken by the MLB ahead of the delayed start of the 2020 season.
Now, league officials are grappling with exactly how to proceed with a season which is rapidly developing into a worst-case scenario for the sport.
There has been a steady stream of bad news throughout the last few days, beginning with Washington Nationals left-fielder – and one of the sport’s biggest names – Juan Soto testing positive for the virus and being forced to miss his team’s opening game.
It was also revealed that several players from the Miami Marlins had also tested positive, eventually leading to the postponement of their opening home game with Baltimore.
Now, successive days have shown further positive tests to have taken place in the Miami team with the total number of positive tests reaching 15, equating to roughly 50 percent of the playing staff, demonstrating both the virality of the illness and the blind spots within the sport’s safety structure.
Two Marlins coaches were also confirmed to be carrying the virus.
The Philadelphia Phillies almost certainly shared a field with infected players when they played against the Marlins last week leading to speculation that their team is now at risk of a similar outbreak while the New York Yankees will hold similar concerns after sharing a changing area with the Miami side. Several Phillies players also tested positive for the virus last month.
The stream of negative news has led to repeated calls for the season to be scrapped, with several analysts saying that the safety precautions are nowhere near robust enough to contain the virus which remains rampant in the United States.
However, as of Tuesday league officials are understood to be pressing forward with the season as planned after team owners and commissioner Rob Manfred held talks where they opted to not pause or cancel the season.
This stance is likely to upset some factions of MLB players, particularly given the recent spate of NFL players who have opted to forgo millions of dollars by deciding to sit out the American Football season due to begin in mid-September.
The spate of COVID-19 incidents within the baseball structure comes in harsh contrast to the relative lack of similar disruptions in basketball and ice hockey, with both of those national leagues set to commence in the coming days.
With more than a month until the NFL’s kick-off, this could be all the evidence they need to attempt to adopt the very restrictive but apparently effective quarantine “bubble” scenario.