Monday was a day of anxiety for the Orioles, Miami Marlins and the rest of Major League Baseball. After an outbreak of Covid-19 on the Marlins, MLB postponed the Orioles’ scheduled games against them in Miami on Monday and Tuesday nights.
It also postponed the Yankees-Phillies game in Philadelphia. The visiting locker room for the Yankees was used by the Marlins this past weekend. Tuesday’s Yankees-Phillies game also has been postponed.
Commissioner Rob Manfred said that if additional testing done on the Marlins is acceptable, Miami will play the Orioles on Wednesday night at Camden Yards.
However, seven new cases among players was reported Tuesday morning by Ken Rosenthal, of The Athletic, making it less likely that the Orioles will play the Marlins on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Marlins stayed in Philadelphia Sunday after at least 11 players and two coaches tested positive for the coronavirus.
“I don’t put this in the nightmare category,” Manfred said Monday. “It’s not a positive thing, but I don’t see it as a nightmare. … That’s why we have the expanded rosters. That’s why we have the pool of additional players.”
The Marlins might need to find replacements for 15 of their 33 players from their alternate site in Jupiter, Florida.
The development came after the Orioles bounced back from an opening-game 13-2 loss to the Red Sox to take two of three from Boston, ending the first weekend on an apparent high note. Miami also won two of three from the Phillies, but the Marlins were presenting baseball with its first crisis after the restart.
MLB’s announced test results last Friday were strong. Of the 10,939 samples, just six tested positive for Covid-19. Four of these were players, and two were staff members.
After Monday’s news, there is concern about getting through the season. With restricted travel and strict health protocols, Manfred has to be unnerved by the Marlins’ outbreak and what it might portend.
As the NBA and NHL try to resume their regular seasons, there are many who believe that Major League Baseball should have followed these leagues and played in bubbles.
The NBA is playing at the Disney complex in Kissimmee, Florida. The NHL’s bubbles are in Edmonton and Toronto.
Those are indoor sports, where a bubble is easier to achieve.
There were proposals for bubbles in baseball, but the locations in Arizona, Florida and Texas are now hotbeds of the coronavirus.
Had baseball played in Arizona, most of the games would have been played outside in scorching heat during the day and fewer fans would have been watching.
Initial ratings for Thursday night’s opening games featuring the Yankees and Nationals and Dodgers and Giants were the highest for any regular-season telecast since 2011, and fan interest over the weekend seemed strong.
Baseball’s 60-game schedule has it finishing the regular season by September 27th and then expanding the playoffs.
The idea for a 16-team wild-card round is a good one, especially this season. It’s possible that teams with .500 records, or even below, will qualify, but the fifth- through eighth-seeded teams would have to play the two-of-three series on the road.
It’s likely that this gimmick won’t go away. Unlike the mismatches seen in the first round of the NBA playoffs, these aren’t seven-game series, and the round will be over in four days, extending the postseason by perhaps two days.
The expanded playoffs are also part of an answer to the Players Association complaint about teams tanking to line up higher draft choices. With eight of 15 teams in each league qualifying for the playoffs, the idea of teams not doing their best to win now is reduced.
The owners and players, who will engage in what are likely to be contentious talks again next year, need the season to run relatively smoothly. However, with an outbreak occurring so early, that doesn’t seem likely.
The unexpected two days off for the Orioles sets up, health permitting, a long homestand. They have eight games—and maybe more if doubleheaders are included—with the Marlins, Tampa Bay Rays and Yankees. Tampa Bay and New York are scheduled for three-game series.
Orioles manager Brandon Hyde, who has balanced the health and performance concerns of his team, will have an opportunity to reset his rotation because of the postponements. Asher Wojciechowski was supposed to pitch on Monday while Kohl Stewart was set for Tuesday.
Tommy Milone, who started the opener, was the likely starter on Wednesday, and Hyde hoped to get John Means back from the injured list for Thursday’s game.
If doubleheaders are played, the teams would get to add another player from their alternate site.
The Orioles, who have had flights from Boston to Miami and Miami to Baltimore in consecutive days, won’t need to board a plane until August 25th. They have consecutive three-game series in Washington (August 7-9) and Philadelphia (August 11-13).