After an outbreak of coronavirus that infected nearly half of the Miami Marlins registry and prompted the team̵7;s season to be suspended, Major League Baseball urges players not to leave hotels in road cities other than games, requiring the use of surgical masks instead of cloth masks when traveling and requiring each team to travel. with an officer who ensures players and staff properly adhere to league protocol, ESPN sources said.
The updated rules, set out in a team report Tuesday, came as MLB investigated the cause of the Marlins outbreak, which showed 16 players and two employees were testing positive on COVID-19, sources said. Marlins’ games have been postponed until Sunday, and the prospect of their season resuming on Tuesday at home against Philadelphia remains in question.
Commissioner Rob Manfred defended the league’s protocol in an interview with MLB on Monday and could further strengthen it in the coming weeks as the effects of the Marlins outbreak become clearer – especially with regard to the scrupulousness of the search for contacts. The league also postponed Friday’s scheduled game between the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies, the latter of which played for the Marlins on Sunday before the outbreak unfolded. The game is scheduled for Saturday, which will give Philadelphia an extra day to assess whether the Marlins virus has been transmitted to any of its players, ESPN sources said.
Nowhere in the 113-page protocol governing the 2020 season does it explicitly state how the league will deal with the coronavirus outbreak, let alone the size of the Marlins. He offers neither a threshold for the team to be suspended nor a scenario that would cause a break in the season. For a document as detailed and meticulous as the MLB’s operation manual, the lack of specificity of literally the whole reason for its existence – the presence of a global pandemic – was an obvious omission, many general managers said they were leading the season.
It was also intentional when the league sought flexibility in its actions. The Marlins virus infiltration this week was inspired, finally putting the number on the lowest baseball, ready stomach, not stopping operations outside of a heart attack: 18 positive tests, of which 16 players – 48% of those traveling with the team.
From the moment MLB pledged to spend its season out of the bubble and send hundreds of people on the road every day, this was, if not inevitable, at least expected. Still, the number of Marlins staff at COVID-19 still shocked league officials, who hoped the outbreaks would be less than half that. Despite all the severity of MLB, which took the protocol, the virus defeated him in one place in the first weekend of the season.
Dropping is just beginning. Marlins are currently on the sidelines, their return date is unclear. They are currently evaluating how to complete the roster with a combination of players who are already members of their organization and training at their alternate site in Jupiter, Florida, free agents and refusal applications. The Philly, who played them on Sunday, when only four players are known to have tested positive for COVID-19, simply hope that their daily tests will continue to turn negative, as they have for two days in a row, according to sources. The Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees, who were to play according to the Marlins and Phillies, started a series of two games instead. It’s a baseball pandemic: a schedule is a schedule while it’s gone.
The most important thing in a short period of time is how baseball adjusts after the first flash. As much as Manfred stood by the protocol on Monday, and as clearly as the league on Tuesday emphasized that the previous four days did not find positive cases of COVID-19 among the other 29 teams in the league, it’s true: the rules meant protecting players and keeping them safe failed to prevent a spectacular outbreak.
The investigation examines a wide range of factors – from the team’s behavior in the stadium – wearing masks, social distancing and other factors proposed by the protocol – to the field actions of players and staff, according to sources. The league will especially test the veracity of players who go to Atlanta at night during the Marlins in the city for the pre-season games against the Braves. However, the extent to which the actions of those in Marlin’s organization may have checked the protocol without adhering to it, what happened on Sunday, highlights gaps that need more attention.
After positive tests by starter Jose Urenyi, first baseman Garrett Cooper and right-winger Harold Ramirez, the protocol called for contact tracking – see which other players or staff got into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 6 feet away from a person for approximately 10 minutes, according to a copy of the protocol obtained by ESPN.
Only one player, according to sources, fell into this category after tracking contacts: starter Sandy Alcantara, who was reported by MLB Network, was among those who later tested the positive results. The idea that only one player among the team traveling to 33 would be subject to a protocol of close contact – quarantine until the results of a rapid test for coronavirus – struck officials of other teams as unlikely. All 30 MLB teams are required to serve at least one trained contact tracker, while the contact tracking operation is controlled by the league.
After Sunday’s game, the Marlins blocked the news that nine additional positive results appeared on the test – seven players and two coaches. On Tuesday, the tests showed four more positive results for the Marlins, and they were informed of another Wednesday. Among them, the hunter Jorge Alfaro, who tested a positive Friday in Atlanta, the Marlins had 18 cases, which forced Manfred to suspend his season on Tuesday amid challenges related to how the outbreaks coped.
Some elements of the protocol are unlikely to change, including testing. Currently, staff on the field, including players, are checked every other day through a saliva sample. The sample is sent to a laboratory in Utah, where it is usually processed within 36 hours. In the event of an outbreak, testing lag can be problematic. Also, this is unlikely to be resolved, according to sources, with faster testing. Sensitivity – or how often a lab test generates a positive that accurately reflects the presence of the virus – in a saliva analysis is higher than the point of care.
Major changes to the MLB protocol may be imminent. When the league has now postponed games, there is a precedent, sources say, to suspend play at the first sign of an outbreak. If it is clear that a cluster may form, one official said, the league may stop playing for one team to better understand how insightful the virus is. Of course, when the incubation virus lasts up to 14 days, according to the CDC, it remains possible that even stopping the game may be too late to avoid the spread of the virus in the club.
Adherence to the protocol around baseball was controversial, especially whether all its elements mattered. The players spent the first week playing spitting, high-fingering, dog-peeling, and in the case of the Astros-Dodgers on Tuesday, ignoring social distancing – and at least so far without the coronavirus.
The first extension of the protocols in the note reminds them anyway. While the league does not provide quarantine on the road, players and team staff will be severely discouraged from even visiting the hotel’s common areas. On buses, the rule officer arranges seating patterns – and, in some cases, separate groups of friends who would like to overcome the 6-foot rule, which the league treats as sacred, along with accepting a surgical mask for everyone. The Compliance Officer, assigned the rare first-tier status granted to key personnel such as players, managers, coaches and coaching staff, will report and monitor hotels.
Marlins will be the first test case on human performance. The team remains in Philadelphia, where it has been since Friday and could remain for the foreseeable future. Marlins’ next series is scheduled to begin Tuesday in Miami against the Phillies. If the Marlins play this series in Philadelphia instead, they can take a bus to New York to face the Mets and then take a bus to Buffalo, New York, where the Blue Jays plan to play their home games this season. Under this scenario, the Marlins will not return home to their August 14 series against Atlanta, although Miami Dad currently needs a 14-day quarantine for people coming to the city from New York, which further complicates matters.
Miami could make three games against Washington, which were postponed this weekend, planning two backups for future series and playing on their joint weekend on September 17. How to make four losing games against Baltimore, an opponent of the Interleague, can be difficult, which means that the Marlins will not be able to play the full schedule for 60 games.
Philadelphia’s two-header against Toronto, scheduled for Saturday, illustrates baseball maneuverability. MLB may introduce seven-inning doublers this weekend, first reported by The Athletic. During a season in which the playoffs expand from 10 to 16 teams, the runner starts at second base in extra innings, and the Blue Jays play their home games in the US, the semi-inning double will match the strange, unpredictable – and, most importantly, fragile season 2020, which is still moving forward.