On Sunday afternoon, the Marlins announced 20 minutes before their head coach’s press conference that starter Jose Urena had tested positive for coronavirus and would not be making his start that day against the Phillies.
Marlins head coach Don Mattingly then canceled his press conference in an ominous display of what was to become the first example of how not to run a sports team during a pandemic.
The game between Florida and Philadelphia went on as scheduled, after what turned out to be a decision by Marlins players to go ahead with the game.
You heard that right. The Marlins players in a group text decided that they were still going to play.
That decision may well have cost Major League Baseball a shot of getting through a 60-game schedule.
On Monday, the Marlins announced that their home opener against Baltimore would not be happening.
Why? Because 11 more players and coaches tested positive for COVID-19 and the team is still stuck in Philadelphia awaiting results on the rest of their players.
If that isn’t the “I told you so,” moment that many other major sports have attempted to avoid by placing their players in a bubble, then I don’t know what is.
The Major League Baseball Players Union voted against having a bubble for teams and their staff.
The NBA didn’t give their players the choice. All NBA players are contained in the Walt Disney Resort at on site hotels where they stay when they aren’t practicing or playing games.
Sounds like a great idea.
But MLB and the players union didn’t want that. They wanted to play in their home ballparks and allow their players to go home at night.
And look where that has gotten them.
Now, not only are the Phillies having to cancel games because they have been exposed to the Marlins, but the Orioles and the Yankees are also affected because they are supposed to be the next opponents of these teams.
It’s not a shock that this has happened, despite what anyone tells you on MLB Network or ESPN. You have a multi-million dollar organization letting the decision to play a game up to players, who even though they were exposed to the virus, still want to go out and maybe infect another team just four days into the season.
It’s shocking and it’s irresponsible.
The Marlins released a statement today saying that the, “health of our players and staff has been and will continue to be our primary focus as we navigate through these uncharted waters. After a successful Spring 2.0, we have now experienced challenges once we went on the road and left Miami.
“Postponing tonight’s home opener was the correct decision to ensure we take a collective pause and try to properly grasp the totality of this situation. We have conducted another round of testing for our players and staff, and our team will all remain in Philadelphia pending the results of those tests, which we expect later today.”
You’ll notice there is no apology in there for willingly playing a game knowing that most of your team had been exposed to those on a plane and bus who were diagnosed once the team got to Philly.
The Marlins went from four players on Sunday to a total of 14 players and staff on Monday infected.
Most who think the coronavirus is like the flu will say it’s no big deal. But tell that to Phillies shortstop Didi Gregorius, who is playing while wearing a mask full time because of chronic kidney disease.
That disease already robbed him of part of a season and getting coronavirus could well rob him of his life.
But the Marlins, like the trainwreck they have always been, continue to stick their collective noses in the sand.
I pray that the Phillies do not get an outbreak of the virus. I also pray that everyone on the Marlins team gets better.
But if we don’t acknowledge what a travesty this has been, the MLB season won’t last a month.