Less than a week into the 2020 MLB season, a COVID-19 outbreak among Miami Marlins players and staff has resulted in the cancellation of their home opener against the Baltimore Orioles.
Jeff Passan and Jesse Rogers of ESPN reported eight more players and two coaches have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the team’s total to at least 14.
The team remains in Philadelphia, where it will undergo further testing. Players and coaches who tested positive will be placed into quarantine until they have two negative tests at least 24 hours apart.
According to Jayson Stark and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic: “There are no specific standards within the health and safety protocols that trigger the shutdown of a team or all teams. That decision is solely in the hands of commissioner Rob Manfred.”
The commissioner has the power to suspend or cancel the 2020 season should an outbreak create a disruption in competitive balance.
The Phillies are scheduled to host the New York Yankees on Monday. There has been no word on the status of that game, which is scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m. ET. The Yankees would be using the same dugout and clubhouse as the Marlins. It is also unclear if Phillies players will have to undergo a new round of testing after being in close quarters with Marlins players since their series opener Friday.
Matt Gelb of The Athletic reported the Phillies are quarantining their visiting clubhouse staff. The Yankees traveled with their own clubhouse staff for the scheduled series.
While the swiftness of the outbreak may come as a surprise, MLB’s plan for the 2020 season always carried significant risks. By allowing players to travel by air, stay in hotels and interact with the general public-to essentially move forward as if this were a normal season-MLB was all but guaranteeing several employees would test positive throughout the year.
The Marlins’ outbreak provides a stark contrast to what is being done by the NBA, which has seen zero positive tests among players since sequestering them in a “bubble” in Orlando, Florida.
MLB’s rapid descent from Opening Day joy to fear of an outbreak that forces the season’s cancellation may provide a harrowing example for the NFL, which is also planning its 2020 season without a so-called bubble.