As of the time of this writing, early in the morning, the New York Yankees lay in wait. Everything is at a standstill after the Miami Marlins had 14 staff, including 12 players test positive for the coronavirus. Marlins and Oriole game and the New York Yankees Phillies game were postponed.
The biggest problem facing MLB is people not following the rules, and that includes the general population, players, and even managers. Right now, the most significant threat for the baseball season is the state of Florida where the Miami Marlins are from. It is no coincidence that Florida players were the first team to have a widespread outbreak. There are over 10k people a day testing positive. The worst is in Miami/Dade county, where the Marlins are located.
The state has handled the virus poorly, favoring the opening of the economy in exchange for accepting unacceptable death rates. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has done little to protect Florida citizens, instead leaving it up to counties and cities. Without a statewide plan, the problem will not be solved. Even in the counties with the tightest regulations (Miami/Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach), many people don’t wear masks. Beaches are packed, and social distancing is not being followed.
The only statewide ban is on bars being open. Restaurants and other entertainment facilities are still open with 50% capacity regs. That includes gyms, bowling alleys, concerts, and etc. Although this article may seem like one on the Florida situation, it’s not, it’s about the Miami Marlins and the environment they live in.
Could it be that one Miami Marlin player didn’t follow the MLB protocols and went into a restaurant or gym, caught the virus, and brought it home to his team? Although it can’t be substantiated, that is most likely what happened. The 101 page MLB protocol pretty much protects the players, but not if the protocols are not followed rigidly.
If this season is to be completed, everyone must follow them always. Is it being done? The flat answer is no. This past weekend as the 2020 baseball season opened, we saw that some followed protocols and some didn’t, everyone has to for the safety protections to work. Even the New York Yankees are not following them. In Sunday’s game at Nationals Park, I saw catcher Gary Sanchez spit several times, I saw balls that should have been thrown out stay in play. I saw high fives. Some players in the dugout had masks, others didn’t. Even manager Aaron Judge stopped wearing his mask properly. For most of the game, he did not have his nose covered.
And it is hardly just the Yankees. On tv, I saw a St. Louis manager come to argue with an empire, no mask, and not staying six feet away. One team had a walk-off win and all the players piled on at home plate. I may have only seen the tip of the iceberg. Most players are not wearing masks where social distancing can’t be practiced in packed dugouts. This practice is going on throughout baseball. Yesterday MLB issued even more strict regulations. But they must be followed and enforcement is lacking.
Yankee Adam Ottavino let the cat out of the bag in a Zoom interview when he indicated that the locker room gang showers are being used. He mentioned this because there was not any communal shampoo, and he had to go back to his locker to get his.
An example of the lack of enforcement is that players are supposed to stay in hotel rooms. Of course, that is difficult for young men, but MLB only puts one player in charge of being sure that is followed. If every player followed the lead of Clint Frazier this would be a safer baseball world.
So where does that leave MLB going forward? The Yankees may forego the games in Philadelphia and play two doubleheaders at Yankee Stadium instead. The Marlins may forego their opening day at Marlins Park and play in Baltimore instead. When all the tests are known this morning it will give some direction to the New York Yankees and the Miami Marlins.
One thing is very clear, teams in Florida, Texas, California, and more, where the virus is surging will have to follow health protocols to the letter, so they don’t carry the virus to uninfected teams if there is any chance of completing this short 60 game baseball season.