MLB Writer: COVID-19 Outbreaks Could "Spiral Out Of Control"

Rob Manfred says the Marlins' COVID-19 outbreak isn't a nightmare, but bad dreams – and worse realities – could be on the baseball horizon

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
July 28, 2020 - 9:41 am
New York Mets

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A COVID-19 outbreak has ravaged the Miami Marlins and forced Major League Baseball to cancel multiple games in multiple cities. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, however, doesn’t put this early season stumble “in the nightmare category.”

Well, if it’s not a nightmare, then what is it?

“I think for him he says it’s not a nightmare because he’s viewing it from management’s standpoint and the owners’ prism,” AP MLB writer Ron Blum said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “The nightmare is not playing at all, and from what he sees, okay, they have X amount of positive tests . . . [but] if it doesn’t get worse, Major League Baseball thinks it can manage it. A nightmare for baseball would be multiple teams having more than a dozen players out where it would affect the quality and the integrity of the competition.”

Still, it’s a bad sign that the virus has already forced the league to cancel games. How will baseball be able to navigate these mini-outbreaks in the coming weeks? Or can they at all?

“If it keeps happening, eventually it will spiral out of control,” Blum said. “Baseball has to hope it’s isolated and doesn’t extend further. Hundreds of millions of dollars – billions of dollars – are at stake for an industry that’s been decimated by the pandemic. So he’s looking at this as something that, hey, hopefully players and teams can control it.”

Players need to do their part, clearly. They have scaled back celebrations somewhat, but not entirely. That type of contact could easily spread the virus.

“[The league has] been talking to the Players’ Association,” Blum said. “Players are hugging each other and slapping hands; that’s directly against the protocols that the players agreed to. They’re supposed to cut out the high-fives and the back slaps and stuff like that. Clearly from what we’ve seen in the first five days of the season, maybe they’re not celebrating wins at 100 percent exuberance, but they’re certainly celebrating them at 50 or 60 percent.”