When I set out to write today, I was planning to write about Dansby Swanson’s big night, but honestly, the only thing on my mind was the insanity of playing sports during a pandemic, in a country that has not done nearly enough to control the virus.
Yesterday, when watching the Phillies vs. Marlins game—a 11-6 bullpen game in which my sanity should probably be questioned for watching every pitch of it in the first place—the announcers calmly told the viewers in the beginning of the broadcast that four Marlins players would not be available for the game, with all of the obvious implications hinted at, but not directly stated.
Beyond that, the broadcasters then read from a transcript in which Marlins Manager Don Mattingly said the team met before the game, and collectively decided to play, spouting off normal “team unity” type “we’re all in this together” platitudes that, if not during a pandemic of a highly contagious disease spread by breathing in close proximity of the infected, would not have even registered in my memory as words. It would be normal “Crash Davis Rule of Baseball Banality” word salad that would go in one ear and out the other.
We can’t be this dumb.
This should not have been the Marlins’ call as a team, and the fact that it was is a flashing red neon sign indictment of Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball’s inane plan to return.
We can’t allow this to continue.
One of the Marlins players to have tested positive before Sunday was their first baseman, Garrett Cooper, who, like most MLB players, does not wear a mask while playing in the field—nor do any Phillies players save for Didi Gregorius, who has a kidney condition, so has tried to take more precautions than his teammates. My mind shot to Saturday’s game (the previous game), in which Marlins pitchers walked 9 Phillies, and allowed 7 hits, 4 of which were singles. I saw each moment those runners were on first base, for minutes at a time, breathing in close proximity to an infected person.
I thought about how easily this disease spreads.
Jayson Stark wrote the following obvious article regarding the situation:
"By any definition, this is an outbreak."— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) July 27, 2020
Four #Marlins have learned they tested positive for the coronavirus in the last 4 days - 3 of them Sunday.
So why did they play a baseball game? Story with @Ken_Rosenthal https://t.co/mWRMW0UJaJ
As of press time, both games involving the Marlins and Phillies have been postponed for the night, 14 Marlins players and staff have tested positive for the virus, and prominent epidemiologists are sounding public alarms to Phillies’ management:
This quote didn't make the story. But Dr. John Swartzberg, one of America's leading infectious-disease specialists, told me yesterday:— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) July 27, 2020
"If I were the #Phillies’ owner, I might test every day for two weeks." https://t.co/bEbWcQ4Cgu
If this outbreak is limited to just the Marlins and has not already spread to the Phillies’ clubhouse—especially the players I previously mentioned who stood on first base—the Phillies should count themselves as extraordinarily lucky.
I do not expect they will be so lucky.
I’m going to state it quite bluntly: I do not share my colleague Tom’s “sports is going to return, and we should all just expect outbreaks amongst players” brand of fatalism, nor do I understand it as an intellectual stance. In his article on the situation this morning, Tom posted this tweet from NBC Sports lead baseball writer Craig Calcaterra:
Major League Baseball needs to be suspended immediately. Rob Manfred needs to answer for why he allowed the Marlins-Phillies game to take place yesterday in such dangerous conditions.— Craig Calcaterra (@craigcalcaterra) July 27, 2020
Then, in my view, he needs to resign.
...and then Tom stated:
Which begs the question: seriously, just what the hell did people think was going to happen?
Did anyone seriously think that MLB was going to make it through the entire season without a team having a rash of positive tests? (That it happened on opening weekend suggests that, well, this probably wasn’t actually related to playing baseball. Whatever Marlins players had the virus, probably contracted it before they got on a flight to Philadelphia.) If the answer is to shut everything down, then it’s clear that MLB was not prepared for this and it’s not obvious why they would not have been.
First of all, that is not “begging the question” at all. “Begging the question” is the logical fallacy of circular reasoning: arguing in a circle by asking readers to accept without argument a point that is actually at stake. For example, a classic example of begging the question/circular reasoning is as follows:
Why should you believe everything in The Bible? Because it’s the word of God. How do we know it’s the word of God? It says so in The Bible.
As you can see, the only logical response to the last line is to ask the first question again, thereby entering into an endless loop of the same four lines.
Beyond that, Calcaterra is 100% correct on this. There was clearly no plan in place besides hoping it didn’t happen for what to do when players test positive—especially when enough players test positive on one team for Jayson Stark to correctly write, “By any definition, this was an outbreak.” In fact, Tom’s final sentence in that paragraph above would have fit perfectly had it been written in an article damning the MLB’s heinously poor plan to return.
As such, I will place it in mine, devoid of context:
If the answer is to shut everything down, then it’s clear that MLB was not prepared for this and it’s not obvious why they would not have been.
That lack of foresight is more than enough to call for Rob Manfred’s resignation.
I wanted to write about Dansby Swanson. Now I can only write that baseball should be shut down until this country can finally get the virus under control. It never should have returned in these circumstances. I think, in your hearts, you all know this.
The worst did, in fact, happen, and happened before the end of opening weekend.
Shut it down. Shut everything down.
Update: David Price Weighs In
Now we REALLY get to see if MLB is going to put players health first. Remember when Manfred said players health was PARAMOUNT?! Part of the reason I’m at home right now is because players health wasn’t being put first. I can see that hasn’t changed.— David Price (@DAVIDprice24) July 27, 2020
As of press time, the plan is for the Marlins to take a bus to Baltimore and play there tomorrow (instead of in Miami). MLB Owners and Rob Manfred truly do not get it. David Price was absolutely correct to opt out. It will be interesting to see what the players’ collective response to this will be in the coming days.