We knew the new normal was going to take a lot of getting used to, but this first week of the 2020 baseball season has far exceeded our low expectations.
From a local perspective, the first series of the season looked like a lot of the other series the Phillies played against the Marlins during the 2019 season. Miami took two out of the three games at Citizens Bank Park and improved to 10-5 in its last five series against the Phillies. In that same span, the Marlins are 22-55 against all other teams in baseball, confirming that they do indeed stink or at least they did a season ago.
That trend is inexplicable, but the game results from the weekend in South Philly have been grimly overshadowed by Miami’s COVID-19 test results. How’s this for a by-the-numbers we’ve never seen before: The Marlins scored 17 runs against the Phillies over the weekend and matched that number of positive tests among the traveling party they brought to Philadelphia.
And now, after the news Tuesday that the Marlins’ season was suspended through Sunday and the Phillies’ home-and-home four-game series with the Yankees this week was postponed, baseball has a scheduling problem that Bud Abbott and Lou Costello could have turned into a comedy routine.
Costello: Who’s up next for the Phillies?
Abbott: I don’t know.
Costello: The Yankees?
Abbott: No, they’re headed for Baltimore.
Costello: Then why did they spend two nights in Philly?
Costello: Who’s No. 19?
Abbott: The novel coronavirus.
Costello: I just want to know who’s up next for the Phillies.
Abbott: The Blue Jays.
Costello: In Toronto?
Abbott: No, the Blue Jays are playing their home games in Buffalo this season.
Costello: So the game is in Buffalo?
Abbott: No, it’s in Philly.
Costello: So the Phillies are the home team?
Abbott: No, they’re the road team.
Costello: I miss the good, old days when Who was on first, What was on second and I Don’t Know played third.
Anyway, back to the ballgames. Commissioner Rob Manfred was asked Monday night if he considered the Marlins’ COVID-19 outbreak a nightmare.
“I don’t put this in the nightmare category,” he said.
If the commissioner does not consider this a nightmare, I’d hate to hear the details after he actually had a gruesome dream.
“Obviously we don’t want any player to get exposed,” Manfred said. “It’s not a positive thing, but I don’t see it as a nightmare. We built the protocols to allow us to continue to play. That’s why we have the expanded rosters. That’s why we have the pool of additional players and we think we can keep people safe and continue to play.”
The Phillies and Yankees will likely be able to make up their four lost games pretty easily. Thanks to MLB’s decision to move the Yankees to Baltimore for games Wednesday and Thursday when the Orioles had been scheduled to play the Marlins, the Phillies and Yankees could play one of the four games or even a doubleheader Monday when the Phillies were supposed to be off and the Yankees were scheduled to play in Baltimore. The teams also share days off on Aug. 24 and Sept. 14.
Figuring out the Marlins’ situation will be far more complicated because they are losing seven games — four with Baltimore and three at home this weekend against the Nationals, whose players had reportedly voted against making the trip to Miami.
The Marlins, of course, also have roughly half their roster in quarantine after positive tests, so as good as they felt about themselves leaving Citizens Bank Park early Sunday evening, they must now wonder what their team will even look like if and when they play their next scheduled game against the Phillies on Monday night in Miami.
Maybe the Phillies will finally be able to beat a Marlins lineup ravaged by the coronavirus, but is anybody willing to bet on it and, for that matter, does anybody really believe those games will be played?