With outbreaks taking the Miami Marlins out of commission until at least Tuesday (Bill Shaikin of the LA Times just reported this is when they will resume), and now the Phillies (set to resume Monday, also from Bill Shaikin) and Cardinals also being out of commission for an unknown amount of time, Major League Baseball has been in a situation of trying to figure out what they can do on the fly. This morning, Rob Manfred reportedly told the sports networks to have alternate programming ready just in case the season is postponed or cancelled. That’s never a good sign for where things are at.

While the Marlins situation is grim in nature with more than half of their active roster having tested positive for COVID-19, and the Cardinals having three players and three staff members test positive in the last 36 hours, there is obviously a reason to try and look at options of shutting things down if that worsens for either team, or more teams follow along the same path.

However, despite the morning call to the sports networks, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred told ESPN’s Karl Ravech “We are playing. The players need to do better, but I am not a quitter in general and there is no reason to quit now. We have had to be fluid, but it’s manageable.”

I’ve got a lot of questions about this statement here, but let’s start with the first sentence: We are playing. That means that right now cancelling, or even putting the season on hold for a short period of time to adjust some things isn’t really on the table.

He’s right – some of the players do need to do better. Rules were adjusted on Friday by Major League Baseball and the Players Association to try and do just that. But what’s missing from this is that Major League Baseball also has to do better. They seemingly have tried to wing this from the very beginning, focusing far more on fighting with the players over how much money they would “lose” rather than focusing on trying to come up with a better health and safety plan.

As for the part where Rob Manfred said he’s not a quitter, well, I guess I have to ask: Who cares? It’s not Rob Manfred’s health and safety that’s at stake here. It’s the players, team personnel, and all of their families health and safety at stake here. That Rob Manfred doesn’t think he’s a quitter is entirely useless in this statement.

Let’s talk about it being manageable. By-and-large, in the first week of the season, most teams have managed the situation. But we’ve also seen what happens now when the virus gets into a team’s clubhouse – it spreads. We knew this because we’ve known about how this is highly contagious for basically all of 2020. It’s virtually impossible to spend as much time together as athletes do, in the way that they do, while traveling as well, and manage the virus once it’s been introduced. If you can manage to keep it out, things will go well. If they don’t, it’s very likely to spread.

We’ll see how things continue to go. After having their own scare with Matt Davidson testing positive, but subsequently testing negative on every other test and being re-instated in less than a week, it seems he had a false positive on a rapid test. Baseball is going to trudge along, hope for the best and try to adjust schedules if and when needed.

40 Responses

  1. jim walker

    Recalling all those years ago when one of Bob Trumpy’s tag lines on WLW SportsTalk was “The opposite of love isn’t hate; it’s indifference”.

    Judging from the response here, it looks like MLB is well down the road to getting there.

  2. seadog

    Doug, well thought out and well said. You have learned over the years to keep emotion out of it. Well done

    Seems like MLB will “trudge” forward. No idea what the next 48 hours may bring. If they do—All we can do as “Avid” Reds fans is support the players/team. Continue on with our banter etc. Enjoy it while we can.

    • 2020ball

      Theres plenty of emotion in my eyes, but its the same opinions and emotions I have when reading that quote (doug reported it properly for sure). The players deserve some blame yes, but the share of the blame that lies with the rulemakers isn’t forgotten for me — Manfred’s statement seems to be missing that part.

  3. IndyRedsFan

    Doug,

    I don’t know how you can criticize the owners for not coming up with a better safety plan. They have a 100+ page document that the Players Association agreed to.

    The Marlins didn’t get the virus by doing something that wasn’t covered in the protocol…they got the virus by ignoring the protocol….including going out to bars, etc.

    We all see the Reds violating the safety rules every game as well.

    • Doug Gray

      I mean, let’s start with something real simple: No leaving the hotels unless it’s to go to the ballpark. That would be a rule that would have either kept the Marlins issue from happening, or would have been a violation of the rules. Instead, it wasn’t a part of the rules.

      And yes, we see players violating the in-game stuff. As I said, the players do need to do better. I even wrote about that earlier this week noting the non-mask wearing in the dugout, the high fiving, the congregating too closely.

      • JayTheRed

        Honestly it must be hard for them not to do their home run mantra’s since they have done it for so long. The players do need to make a better effort.

        Also the elbow thing that has suddenly become popular is probably one of the worst ideas out there other than maybe the players kissing. So many companies and regulators tell people that if they need to sneeze or cough to do it in the cusp of your arm on the other side of your elbow. Well folks that’s right next to your elbow just on the other side I am sure droplets are passing onto your elbows.

        In the excitement of scoring runs they need to come up with some non touching air gestures that are appropriate.

      • Tom Reeves

        Are we certain the players association would agree to no players leaving the hotel? Non-regulatory required workplace safety rules are negotiable (I wish they weren’t but they are). I’m doubtful the players association would agree to that rule. The players association may agree to the hotel restriction for concessions on other, non-related issues.

    • Jeffrey Rufenacht

      a Slight change of gears here, but can someone please clarify for me, what the rules are regarding postponing a game for Covid-19 reasons, or having to call up replacements to fill in for starters and play the game anyway? Case and point the Reds in Games 3,4,5 without some starters and the Cardinals who started with 3 or 4 covid, and immediately postponed their games. Was chosing to play a mistake on the Reds part?

      • Doug Gray

        There aren’t precise rules for it, or at least there weren’t.

        I think that the different is probably two-fold. First, the Reds played without Senzel and Moustakas, but neither ever tested positive. The Cardinals had players and staff testing positive. It was confirmed spread in their club. That was not the case at all for the Reds. But also, the Cardinals thing happened after the Marlins lost 2/3rds of their roster to positive tests, while the Reds thing happened before that. Fair or unfair, I think that’s the difference.

  4. Bred

    As players’ frustration grow for a multitude of reasons like Covid, mismanaged PPD games, losing, canceled games, and the flip flop of we might shut down to I am not a quitter Manfred, and whatever could be added to the list, I wonder if more players like L. Cain who are financially secure might follow his lead and drop out? I’d like to think that the players enjoy their job. Perhaps that is naive, but if the work place is toxic for whatever reason only pride stands in the way of saying no mas. I don’t follow the NBA or NHL, but the bubble seems to work. In my opinion, MLB made the wrong choice.

    • jim walker

      I think MLB may have actually gotten it right on the viability of a bubble for baseball. There is a big logistical difference in staging a 22 team (NBA) or 24 team (NHL) playoff tournament in a bubble opposed to a 60 game season for 30 teams in a bubble. The nature of the games also makes a difference. With basketball and hockey played against the clock, they know to within a few minutes either way how long a game will take (barring a sudden death OT in hockey). And of course the NBA and NHL are played indoors and don’t have rain wrecking their schedule.

      I would not be at all that surprised if the MLB playoffs, if they get that far, ended up in a bubble situation. This would be especcially likely if the season had to be suspended then resumed with theb playoffs.

  5. Eric Smith

    “It’s the players, team personnel, and all of their families health and safety at stake here.”

    First of all, they “opted in”. They understood the risks and signed up for this no different than NFL players assuming the risk of suffering CTE on a football field. What else did you want? A bubble? There’s no manual for how to do and I’ve yet to see anyone else come up with a better idea — just more fear mongering, complaining and waiting for things to go bad.

    Major League baseball hasn’t mandated or forced these people return to work and put themselves, or their families, at risk — they were all given the “OPTION” to return this season. This is the same issue running rampant across the country, people want it both ways and it’s simply not possible and that’s not Major League Baseball or anyone else’s responsibility. You make rules, laws and policies and either people follow them or they don’t. You can’t police an entire population, no matter how hard you try. If you’re at risk and do not feel safe, then stay home. End of discussion. It’s not your employers job to keep you safe from every virus on the planet. You assume risks every single day that put your life in jeopardy, you are far more likely to die going to work then from COVID-19, in fact 4 times more likely to die in a car accident (we put safety measures in place on the road yet 3,700 people die per/day), are these deaths the fault of the NHTSA? According to the CDC and Prevention, about 16,000 people die each year as a result of injuries associated with falling out of a shower every year. I’m betting anyone reading this won’t stop anyone from showering. MLB doesn’t mandate that players stop chewing, smoking or drinking yet almost 9 million people die per/year from alcohol and tobacco. But that’s different because…….THEY CHOOSE to do it right? That’s their choice. So is playing baseball during a pandemic. And returning to work is and was their CHOICE, they have chosen to assume the risks and still show up. Let’s stop relying on other people to make decisions for us and intrust others with our own safety. If you don’t feel safe than opt out like Lorenzo Cain just did.

    What about MERS, Hepatitis, Ebola, HIV/AIDS, and the Flu? They’ve been around for a lot longer and are all just as harmful, in some cases, more deadly than COVID-19, so why aren’t we flying off the handle on the lack of safety precautions, tests and protocols taken to prevent their spread in MLB clubhouses? What about STD’s? I’ll bet you right now that if you tested every MLB player for STD’s, you’d find four times as many positive cases than you would of COVID-19. And don’t talk to me about the long term effects of a ‘novel virus’, we barely know how to test for it let alone what it does to our long term health.

    Clearly the testing is flawed. Matt Davidson didn’t have it nor did Senzel or Moustakas and look what that resulted in. So every time a player wakes up with a runny nose we should postpone the season for a week? Look at what we are doing here, stop and look at how overblown this has gotten. We are wasting our time talking about asymptomatic cases in Major League Baseball, do you have any idea how pathetic that is? How many of these Marlins cases are going to turn out to be false positives that aren’t being reported? Juan Soto clearly never had it and the Phillies haven’t played a game all week and there are ZERO reported cases. Furthermore how many players, coaches and staff are seriously ill? How many are requiring hospitalization? How many have died? How many family members have contracted the virus and gotten sick and/or died because of this?

    To be clear. I’m not saying COVID-19 is not lethal, dangerous or hazardous to our safety. People have died and gotten sick and in many of those cases those same people took safety precautions and did everything they could to remain safe and still contracted it. But we are talking about professional athletes here who know and understand these risks yet have still engaged, that’s completely different than someone who is doing everything within their power to avoid it. This virus isn’t going away anytime soon with or without a vaccine, it’s going to be here just like the flu and 350,000 other viruses are. We can either accept that or make things worse by complaining, promoting fear, and shutting everything down again — which also resulted in deaths, hospitalization and a host of other problems.

    I’m not a Manfred fan but this absolutely manageable, I’ve never seen components of a society thrive by shutting down and walking away from a crisis.

    • Doug Gray

      First off, we still don’t fully understand the risks. We are learning new side effects seemingly every other week. You know who isn’t at risk of any of that? The owners or Rob Manfred.

      And no, this isn’t like CTE at all.

      And no, many people didn’t have the “option” aside from flat out quitting. Managers, coaches, clubbies, grounds crew, TV guys, radio guys, security, everyone else involved in the game who aren’t the players – they didn’t get to vote. They didn’t get to discuss a single thing in the safety protocols.

      But actually, yes, it is your employers job to keep you safe in the work place – even from viruses.

      Your ridiculous comparison to the other viruses is something I’m not even going to waste time addressing.

      But yeah, you’re right – this virus isn’t going away. But not because we can’t make it go away – because we are too stupid and selfish to make it go away like the rest of the industrialized world has at this point.

      • Old-school

        It’s your employers job to make you 100 % safe? They can’t guarantee that or they would. Look at Marlins. Some players did everything perfect….yet others partied in Atlanta . You can’t pick who you work with or who they live with or associate with.
        You are asking employers to create an environment that they simply can’t. It’s a pandemic.

        It’s easy to criticize and demand safety. No one can do that . So Doug…for the record …what is your solution. Shut down everything? Close everything ?
        Close baseball…fine… Then what???? That doesn’t solve anything. Shutting down MLB doesn’t make the nursing home safer.

      • Doug Gray

        100% safe, no. Safe? Yes.

        When it comes to baseball, I don’t think there’s a good solution at all.

        When it comes to the rest of the country – the solution has been in front of us for months and we don’t care to handle it like other countries did. We half heartedly attempted it then gave up because we cared more about the economy than we cared about the people in the economy and now we get the crappy side of both ends of it.

      • Old-school

        So shut down what exactly?.

        Schools and universities in person? Day care?
        Retail stores?/salons?/ food processing plants?tire and car maintenance? In dining Restaurants? Gyms? Pharmacies? Libraries? Museums?

        Easy to say what not to do… A lot harder to say what to do.

      • Doug Gray

        I don’t care to really dive deep into this here. It doesn’t matter because I don’t get to make the decisions. But just take a look at what everyone else did and then what we did and are still doing. There’s a huge difference.

      • Grand Salami

        Everyone else as in Japan where it’s breaking out again or Europe where it’s all been shut down completely (people forget that no one works in France or Spain in July/August) and the most vulnerable died out quickly?

        Talking about the virus strategy for the country and virus for MLB personnel are two totally different things, Doug.

        First, MLB is the least contact sport of all the big 4 and shouldn’t need to be draconian. Second, as with all of these sports, we are talking about people virtually immune to worst symptoms of the virus. Third, and tied to the first point, without a vulnerable population the players should be working to herd immunity and not bubble (boy) status for the season.

      • Doug Gray

        Tell Eduardo Rodriguez about symptoms and after effects.

        Also, herd immunity isn’t a thing for this.

      • Doug Gray

        Let’s address Japan, though. On July 31st Japan reported 2 COVID-19 deaths. Two. In TOTAL, they have had 1,008 reported deaths. Since the start. Japan’s “breaking out” was 1500 new cases in a day. That would be the equivalent of the US having 3892 new cases in a day. How many did the US have in the most recently reported day? 66,364. Texas, Florida, and California all reported more cases yesterday than the entire country of Japan who has 128,000,000 people. And it wasn’t close, either, as they reported 6720, 7282, and 9642 new cases each. More people died yesterday in America from COVID-19 than have died from COVID-19 in Japan forever.

        If Japan is having some issues, then what on God’s not-so-green-anymore Earth is happening in the US?

      • Bryant

        Thank you for stating this clear and important truth, that has nothing to do with politics. It is simple reality that is, of course, unpleasant to have to accept.

      • jim walker

        @GS> The NHL playoffs are taking place in Toronto, a city reporting around 5 new cases day.

        US went for a quick halfway fix and as Doug said above now has the worst of both worlds, virus out of control and economy tanking because of it.

      • Richard Fitch

        Vacation in Europe traditionally begins in August for roughly 3 weeks. So any reduction in infection rates wouldn’t begin until today. Nevertheless:

        Average daily deaths over last week:

        US: 1,204
        Italy: 6
        France: 10
        Spain: 2

        There’s more going on here than a country going on vacation.

        MLB may not be a contact sport, but it involves travel, so don’t kid yourself and others about the risk.

        “we are talking about people virtually immune to worst symptoms of the virus.”

        Not true.
        BREAKING: Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom has announced that pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez has been ruled out for the 2020 season. The 27-year-old lefty developed a heart issue following a bout with COVID-19.

        The herd immunity argument makes me laugh. There’s no way this country is getting to herd immunity without a vaccine. And herd immunity assumes that infection and recovery provides lasting immunity. Alas,

        “Even if infection with the COVID-19 virus creates long-lasting immunity, a large number of people would have to become infected to reach the herd immunity threshold. Experts estimate that in the U.S., 70% of the population — more than 200 million people — would have to recover from COVID-19 to halt the epidemic. If many people become sick with COVID-19 at once, the health care system could quickly become overwhelmed. This amount of infection could also lead to serious complications and millions of deaths”

    • VaRedsFan

      Awesome post Eric! 100% correct.
      Do people really need a document telling them to use common sense?
      Take responsibility…follow the plan.

    • Todd Pfeiffer

      3,700 people die per day in highway accidents in the US doesn’t seem possible. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety posts that “There were 33,654 fatal motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2018 in which 36,560 deaths occurred.” That’s 100/day. Where is the 3,700 deaths per day cited from?

    • Richard Fitch

      800+ words of misinformation.

      Football players and CTE? Really? First, the science that has exposed the devastating effects of football helmets hitting other football helmets is relatively new. The fact that people are willing to knowingly take those risks doesn’t absolve their overloads of their responsibility to keep them safe. Coal miners keep going into the mines, too. Given their circumstances, they don’t feel they have much choice.

      No, it’s not the fault of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that 3700 people die on the roads each day because they don’t. If 1.3M died on our roadways each year, I’d think, yeah, the NHTSA is doing something grotesquely wrong. Good grief.

      I’ll take your word for it that 16k die getting out of the shower each year, tho I shouldn’t, given your cavalier misuse of numbers. Nevertheless, this careless trope of suggesting that people die of various maladies and accidents each year while lumping this once-in-a-century pandemic into the mix is clearly ignorant of what is going on in this country. On July 29, Americans died of COVID-19 at a rate of 1 per minute.

      While you tell people to stay home if they feel at risk, you ignore the fact that the rest of you who don’t are helping spreading the virus. That means the rest of us can’t go out because it’s never going to be safe. Your CHOICE, your insistence on your FREEDOM to CHOOSE impacts the rest of us, directly or indirectly.

      Other countries have gotten back to some semblance of normal because they did what we wouldn’t. They shut things down and effectively smothered the spread of the virus. But here, the virus has crippled the south and is now moving north 5 months after COVID-19 first exploded in NY while we still argue about wearing masks and insist on opening restaurants and bars that won’t see customers because people are rightfully afraid to patronize those super-spreading establishments.

      “I’ve never seen components of a society thrive by shutting down and walking away from a crisis.”

      LOL. Look beyond our borders. Much of the rest of the world has done just this and instead of “walking away from the virus,” they have smothered it.

    • 2020ball

      “What about MERS, Hepatitis, Ebola, HIV/AIDS, and the Flu? They’ve been around for a lot longer and are all just as harmful, in some cases, more deadly than COVID-19, so why aren’t we flying off the handle on the lack of safety precautions, tests and protocols taken to prevent their spread”

      One of the things I would hope we learn from all the stuff going on is that we should be talking about what we can do to prevent their spread, and hopefully our society does approach things differently in this regard in the future.

    • greenmtred

      There’s a basic flaw in your reasoning: It’s the players’ choice whether or not to take the risk of playing, yes, but the many people not even associated with baseball who almost certainly will be affected get no say in it. The virus spreads easily, and the facts that asymptomatic people can spread it, and that results of tests are too delayed to allow for effective contact tracing make it a certainty that many people will get and spread the virus if baseball doesn’t either institute draconian measures or cancel the season.

    • greenmtred

      Eric: It’s entirely different from football players agreeing to take the risk of CTE. People who come into contact with players with CTE don’t get CTE. Nor do the people who come into contact with those people.

  6. ClevelandRedsFan

    I think we’ll see more guys like Lorenzo Cain opting out if the situation gets worse, which it inevitable will.

    @Doug, what happens with the draft order next year in the event of a cancelled season?

    • Doug Gray

      Not a clue about the draft. I guess it might depend on when the season ends. If it ended tomorrow, my guess would be they’d just revert to the same order based on the 2019 season. But if they get 30 games in? Maybe they combined 2019 and 2020 records to set the order? I honestly have no clue.

  7. CI3J

    Rob Manfred’s “I’m not a quitter” line reminded me of Lord Farquad from Shrek:

    “Some of you may die, but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.”

    https://i.redd.it/c3lxorsxlq711.jpg

    I still think trying to play the MLB season in these circumstances is an extremely ill-advised move, but it’s their decision. I am really skeptical that they will still be playing a month from now. Which would then beg the question: Was it really worth it, if some of these players end up sacrificing their careers (but hopefully not their lives) for a few weeks of baseball?

    Of course, we are not at that point yet. But I don’t see how anyone can look at what has happened so far and not conclude that that’s where this is all heading, especially with COVID continuing to explode all around the U.S. as I type this.

    We’ll see how it goes.

    • Mark Moore

      +500 very sad points for an excellent Shrek quote and the awful reality that Manfred can make that statement safely in his own bubble.

      • Indy Red Man

        Or Rudy

        “Your greatest value to us is, we don’t care if you get hurt.”

  8. seadog

    In my humble opinion. MLB right now is a disaster. Period. How they have handled things. Maybe not there fault. Don’t bring in “other” illness as contributing. Just tells how “shallow” you are.

    Doug Gray is trying to keep the “peace”/Give us a place to vent. What we all can do is support him—-He will tell you where/how to do it again.

    • Grand Salami

      Agreed. Doug mat differ on period although points but his role as a moderator and baseball guru have shined through! Thanks Doug! And tell Chad to post every now and then!

      • Grand Salami

        Doug may differ on personal points but ….

        Wow, autocorrect really screwed me there.

  9. Indy Red Man

    How has South Korea been so fortunate? They interview different people on espn during the enitre game and they’ve said many times that if ANYONE tested positive in the kbo then they’ll shut it down for 3 weeks for cleanup. Nothing yet and they’ve played half their 144 game season.

    Not to mention…South Korea>N Korea>China

    • TR

      Does Pyongyang have a franchise in the KBO?

  10. greenmtred

    Thank you Doug and Richard and many of the rest of you for making very clear arguments. This issue would not, in any rational context, involve politics, but it does, and many have suffered because of that, with many more to follow.