For the second time in two days, Major League Baseball has postponed a Yankees-Phillies game. This decision follows a report that four additional Marlins tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of positive cases to 17. Regardless of what Commissioner Rob Manfred says, this is both a nightmare scenario and an inflection point for the entire 2020 MLB season.
The Marlins outbreak raises questions about how seriously teams are treating the safety protocols internally. I suspect we will find out very soon that the Marlins did not take them very seriously at all. While individual responsibility is at play here, the league clearly needs to be doing more on this front. It should implement an independent third-party in each clubhouse to monitor and enforce them. If this is going to work – and, at this point, I have serious, serious doubts that it can – then that is the bare minimum.
There is some good news, though: no Phillies have yet tested positive. Philadelphia obviously played the Marlins – hence the postponed games – so this is reassuring. Team-to-team spread would almost certainly be the final blow to the season. Personally, I’d like to see a few more rounds of no positives before celebrating, but it is good news nonetheless. It also seems like testing yielded promising results regarding every other team. That, too, is good news.
Anyway, the Yankees and Phillies are both heading to the Bronx today in advance of tomorrow’s scheduled game. The Yankees will practice tonight at Yankee Stadium. For now, at least, things continue to move forward. We’ll have to see how long that lasts.
Update (1:32pm): Two additional relevant items have since come to light. First, the Phillies are not actually going to New York. They were planning to get saliva tests at the park today, then were going to get on a bus to the Big Apple.
However, that may not end up happening at all. Ken Rosenthal reported just now that the the league is discussing placing the Marlins and Phillies under quarantine for a to-be-determined length of time. The Yankees and Orioles (who were set to play Miami) will then play a two-game series on Wednesday and Thursday in Baltimore. As it happens, the Yankees are still in Philadelphia. They are in a “holding pattern.”
Honestly, I think this plan makes sense. Because of the regional scheduling, the only impacted teams (so far) are both in the AL and NL East. If the league decides to quarantine the Marlins and Phillies, then that opens up a new door. Their scheduled opponents could then play each other instead, like they’re doing with the Yanks and O’s. Will it work? Who knows!
What I do know is that some flexibility is needed if we’re going to move forward with this season. That might even include teams playing an unequal number of games and the best winning percentage ruling the day for playoff purposes. That decision comes next, though. What we’re hearing about now is step one.
One last note: none of the Yankees, Phillies, or MLB have officially announced that this game tonight is even postponed. Maybe the Yanks are on their way to Baltimore as we speak for a game tonight. I doubt it! But nothing will surprise me anymore. More to come, I’m sure.
Update (2:33 pm): It’s official. Yankees will play a two-game set in Baltimore beginning tomorrow. As I said, this makes sense. Miami will be off until Monday and Philadelphia is off until Friday.