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Shut it down

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It took one weekend for a major outbreak. Don’t make this worse.

MLB: Winter Meetings Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The MLB season is three games old after a long delay into the summer, and it already looks like it’s time to shut things down. Just one series into the year, we already have a major outbreak from a team that still decided to play on Sunday. The Marlins, after already having multiple players and coaches test positive over the weekend, had eight more players and two more coaches test positive for COVID-19 Monday morning.

As a result, their game tonight against the Orioles has been cancelled.

It’s obviously the right call to cancel this game, and at this point the idea of canceling the season has to be on the table, and it should be the call that is made. MLB was always going to try and make this comeback, but the reality is that without a bubble like the NBA has, it was going to be extremely difficult to make things work. It took one weekend to see that as the case, and we also saw that the league is not disciplined enough to make the right decisions here.

There were already signs of a breakout on the Marlins heading into Sunday’s game against the Phillies and the two teams played anyway. Now, there is a giant snowball effect. Not only are there all of these positive cases on the Marlins, but we are awaiting to see how this has affected the Phillies. Plus, as Alex Speier pointed out, this has also put hotel staffers where the Marlins were staying in jeopardy. On top of that, the Yankees are scheduled to head to Philadelphia tonight to start a series. That must be postponed.

This is just one outbreak and if the league plays things cautiously right now they may be able to limit this specific outbreak as much as possible, but it’s hard to imagine if this happened already that it will be the last. At the very least, MLB has to keep the Phillies and Yankees from playing. Even having the Phillies go play in New York as the home team is a problem until we know their test results. You don’t want a potentially infected team traveling to yet another city, to another visiting clubhouse, and to another hotel. This is how league-wide outbreaks happen.

But really, serious thought needs to be given to shutting the whole thing down. This just isn’t worth the risk. Even if they can manage to stop this outbreak with the Marlins — and again, their decision to play on Sunday demonstrates that they are not showing the best judgement with respect to players’ and personnel’s health — we see the major risk for other outbreaks around the league. And, of course, we know first hand that this is a serious virus even for those that recover given that Eduardo Rodriguez, a healthy 27-year-old, is dealing with potentially very serious heart conditions after fighting the virus earlier this month. This seems like a good time to mention that not all of those positive Marlins tests are asymptomatic, too.

I wanted baseball back. I still do. If the league could be trusted to do the right thing, I might advocate for a temporary shutdown of the teams who could be affected to keep this season going to the finish line. But we saw Sunday they cannot be trusted. There are too many people’s health up in the air — players, coaches, staff members, clubhouse attendants, hotel workers, flight staff, etc — to keep this going. The decision on what to do with the season is entirely in Rob Manfred’s hands. It’s time for the commissioner to do the right thing, as painful as it may be.

Update

The Yankees-Phillies game tonight has indeed been cancelled.