How Is Major League Baseball Affected by COVID-19?

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Major League Baseball announced on Monday that seven St. Louis Cardinals players and six team staffers tested positive for COVID-19, continuing a trend of positive test results among MLB players and employees. 

Additionally, last week, 21 positive cases of the novel coronavirus were reported among the Miami Marlins players and staff. Yesterday at around 4:30 p.m. E.T., the Marlins players all tested negative for COVID-19. The MLB gave the team a go-ahead back to the ballpark.

After these two outbreaks, 21 MLB games have been postponed due to COVID-19 cases. When talking to MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred warned that he would shut down the shortened season if players don’t properly follow COVID-19 protocols. 

“It’s definitely in a lot of guys’ minds,” said Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo at a recent press conference. “We all want to play. It’s a little nerve-racking. We say the most normal thing about the day is when we actually play baseball.”

“We’re all just trying to make sure that we aren’t that person that causes an outbreak like they have in Miami,” Cincinnati Reds catcher Tucker Barhart said at a press conference. “I can’t speak for anybody else, but it worries me just as we start to travel. When we’re in Cincinnati and you’re in your own home, you are pretty much in control of just about everything.

“When we are traveling and we’re out in different clubhouses and different hotels, and things like that, that’s when things that are in our control start to diminish and go the other way,” Barhart continued. “That, for me, is the most worrisome.”

On Saturday, Manfred said, “If it turns out that some guys play 60, some guys play 58, they have this new thing called ‘winning percentage.” He assured, “we can sort that out.”

“The health and safety protocols were designed with a challenging circumstance like the one facing the Marlins in the mind,” MLB stated in a news release. “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 the identified close contacts. The Marlins’ personnel who tested positive remain in isolation and are receiving care.”

On August 3, Marlins CEO Derek Jeter revealed in a video conference, “some of our traveling party had a false sense of security and comfort,” adding that players may have let their guards down and had possibly not worn masks in one another’s presence. 

A growing number of players, including Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain and New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, announced they will sit out the rest of the season due to COVID-19.  

Other professional sports leagues, on the other hand, are not seeing rising COVID-19 cases. The NHL, NBA, and WNBA have started their seasons without any positive cases of COVID-19 due to holding games in “bubbles.” MLB decided against its season in a self-contained bubble, which poses a possibility of another outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred stated to ESPN’s Karl Ravech, “I am not a quitter in general and there is no reason to quit now. We have had to be fluid, but it is manageable.”

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