Cardinals Still Hope To Resume Season After COVID-19 Outbreak
The Cardinals are "hoping they can follow the lead" of the Marlins, the "only other team to experience a full-blown outbreak" of COVID-19 this season, according to Mark Saxon of THE ATHLETIC. The Marlins "went two straight days with no positive tests this week and are scheduled to resume their season" tonight against the Orioles. The Cardinals' series against the Tigers was postponed, and if their season does resume Friday, they "will have seven postponed games to make up in the remaining 53 days of the season." Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak said that he "feels confident the first infection took place in St. Louis before the team took off on what was to be a seven-game road trip on July 27." Some people "have reported that Cardinals players engaged in reckless behavior on the road." But Mozeliak said that he has "not found any evidence to that effect" (THEATHLETIC.com, 8/3). Asked about the team's protocols, Mozeliak responded that “in fairness” the team is "moving through a country engulfed in a pandemic." Mozeliak: “It’s almost impossible to say that we can build a dome around ourselves, move from city to city, move from our home to the ballpark. We understand there was going to be risk" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 8/4).
JETER SPEAKS OUT: Marlins CEO Derek Jeter yesterday addressed his team's outbreak, and admitted that some players "broke the league's protocol while they were in Atlanta for a pair of exhibition games before traveling to Philadelphia to start the season." Jeter said that a couple players "left their hotel to get coffee and clothes," while another "had dinner at an old teammate's house." They "congregated in rooms, sometimes not wearing masks and sometimes not properly following social distancing protocols." They were "small infractions, nothing to the scale of what reports had suggested the team did." Jeter claimed the team's internal investigation found "no way to identify" how the virus got into the clubhouse (MIAMI HERALD, 8/4).
CAUTIONARY TALE: YAHOO SPORTS' Tim Brown noted when the Marlins take the field tonight, their roster, from one game to the next, "will have turned over 20 players." In less than a week, Marlins GM Michael Hill "made three waiver claims, traded for two players, signed a free agent, reinstated two players, recalled three players and selected four others." Taxi squaders "became regulars," and players "arrived in Baltimore from Jupiter, Florida, site of the Marlins' alternate training facility, and from other parts of the country and, of course, those 13 from Philadelphia." The Marlins "had become emblematic of a league that dared to take on the pandemic outside of a bubble" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/3). USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale writes the Marlins and Cardinals are "Exhibits 1 and 1-A of what can happen if protocols are not closely followed." The next COVID-19 outbreak "would not only be devastating to an organization, but would threaten the entire 2020 season" (USA TODAY, 8/4). In N.Y., Tyler Kepner writes the Marlins and Cardinals' outbreaks are the "strange and sad reality of playing in a pandemic" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/4). In Philadelphia, Marcus Hayes writes, "It's time to bubble up. Bubble up or buckle up, because it's going to be a long, ugly ride" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 8/4).
TREADING LIGHTLY: THE ATHLETIC's Ken Rosenthal wrote by "saying the players 'need to be better' about following the sport's health and safety protocols," MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred "rankled those he was trying to reach." The players' reaction is a "clear indication that to find a path to labor peace, Manfred must choose his words carefully." Joint cooperation is "even more critical now as the league tries to carry out an abbreviated season" (THEATHLETIC.com, 8/3).