MLB Gains Momentum With Small Number Of Positive Virus Tests
MLB received "rare good news" on Friday, as the league said that just five players and one staff member tested positive for coronavirus from 10,548 tests performed in the previous week, for a positivity rate of 0.05%, according to Bill Speros of the BOSTON HERALD. The round of tests "included a five-day period in which no positive test results were reported." Overall, 80 MLB players and 13 coaches/staff members "tested positive out of 21,701 tests performed through Friday." That is a 0.4% overall positivity rate, "well below the national average of 9%" (BOSTON HERALD, 7/20). In DC, Dave Sheinin wrote after a "rocky rollout of 'intake' testing as players reported to summer camps ... baseball’s testing program appears to have stabilized over the past two weeks" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/18). In Boston, Peter Abraham wrote teams have "managed to get through workouts at their home parks in relative peace." Most clubs have "at least a few players waiting to be declared free of the virus but nothing so far that compromises their ability to field a representative lineup." That "seems in danger of changing once the season starts and teams travel to virus hot spots such as California, Florida, Texas, and Arizona" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/19).
NO BUBBLE, SOME TROUBLE? ESPN's Jeff Passan notes the optimism that MLB can prevent an outbreak has "grown because the numbers have caused it to grow." However, the "possibility of an outbreak is bigger" than in other sports because there is no bubble. Passan: "With Opening Day this week, there is going to be travel. There is going to be hotel staying. ... The bigger existential issue for baseball is what happened in Toronto, local and state municipalities saying, ‘No, we’re not going to host baseball here anymore,’ and teams having to scramble at the last minute to figure out where exactly they’re going to play. If too many teams run into that, that to me is a greater threat to the baseball season than outbreaks themselves” (“Get Up,” ESPN, 7/20). USA TODAY's Gabe Lacques wrote, "Working around the novel coronavirus will be like nothing the sport has ever seen" (USA TODAY, 7/18).
TOO MUCH FOR TOO LITTLE? In Milwaukee, Tom Haudricourt wondered, "Considering the accommodations being made ... is it worth trying this grand experiment, knowing the possible consequences?" Brewers President of Baseball Operations & GM David Stearns said, "We don't want to exacerbate any problem. I believe to this point, we have a chance to be part of the solution, and we have a chance to provide diversion and entertainment." But he added, "We also understand that if ever it veers into exacerbating a problem, then that's a sign for us to probably stop" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 7/19). In S.F., Ann Killion noted MLB players are "getting tested for the coronavirus while the average person can't get a timely test." Killion: "Essential workers wait in lines in brutal heat for the right to get their nose swabbed so they can scan your groceries or babysit your kids. But Alex Bregman can get tested constantly so he can stand at the plate in an empty stadium and take a ball?" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/19). In N.Y., Bradford Davis wrote under the header, "If MLB Was Really Concerned About Public Safety, It Wouldn't Play Baseball In 2020" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/19).