It’s been several days since a coronavirus outbreak among several Miami Marlins players upended the MLB season for several teams, and I’m still wondering why were the Phillies allowed to take the field against them—especially now that two Phillies employees have tested positive for COVID-19.*
On Sunday, the Marlins learned that three players — including the game’s starting pitcher — had tested positive for COVID-19. Marlins players, led by shortstop Miguel Rojas, began texting once another in a group chain, and decided among themselves to take the field against the Phillies.
Instead of quarantine or isolating players that came in close contact with teammates that tested positive, as the league’s 113-page operations manual states, MLB commissioner let the Marlins take the field.
“There were, I think, a small number of players who met the CDC guidelines,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said during an interview on the MLB Network earlier this week. “They were quarantined. We did additional testing. We did symptom checks. We did temperature checks and decided to proceed with the game on Sunday.”
Monday morning, eight additional players tested positive. Heck of a job, Manfred.
As my colleague Dave Murphy explained in a column on Wednesday, baseball’s coronavirus chaos was guaranteed from the start. It wasn’t a matter “if” players tested positive, but “when,” and the league seems to have staked its chances on actually finishing its pandemic-shortened season on luck.
“This was not a plan anyone who knows what they are talking about would have conceived,” Andrew Morris, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Toronto, told the Associated Press. “It’s playing out like it was supposed to play out.”
After postponing nearly a weeks worth of games, the Phillies were scheduled to return to the field Saturday against the Blue Jays, who will be the home team because Canada wouldn’t allow them to play in Toronto over concerns about MLB’s plans. But since Thursday’s new announced cases, the Phillies have canceled all activity at Citizens Bank Park until further notice.
Is there really a better way to sum up the start of this bizarre season?
*Editor’s note: This post has been updated since Thursday’s announcement of Phillies staff testing positive.