With the 2020 Spring Training (Part II, Summer Training) underway, the Miami Marlins and the rest of baseball need to deal with a new, pothole-riddled path to normality.
Preparations have been made to deal with positive cases of COVID-19. To date, 38 positive test cases have been reported across the major leagues, including 31 players. Two of them, one staffer and one player, are members of the Miami Marlins.
Those testing positive will not participate in practice or in games, and are instead expected to self-quarantine in order to stem the spread of the disease. Those testing positive were not identified by name. Plans for reintegration after COVID runs its course in these personnel are unclear. Will they remain on the COVID-19 related injured list for the duration of the campaign, or will they rejoin the club at some point in the nearer future?
Survival is more important than competition, and I’d like to think that those diagnosed will be held out of the group for the remainder of the season. After all, it’s unclear if the virus can be spread by those who are now testing positive after they have weathered the storm. The 14-day incubation period of the disease wreaks havoc on planning with any degree of precision.
Regardless, the 2020 season will begin on July 23 or 24, and every team will play 60 games. Social distancing can only take things so far. If someone contracts COVID during the season, it’s possible that they spread it to every other player on their team, and any player they’ve come into contact with during the two weeks prior to testing positive.
Maybe playing the major league season is a mistake at this point. Why not write it off and come back healthy and whole with a fresh 2021 season? We know now that’s not going to happen, and truly, it will be nice to enjoy something normal for a change. The Miami Marlins will play the Philadelphia Phillies, the Atlanta Braves, the New York Mets, and the Washington Nationals 10 times each, and the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays, and Tampa Bay Rays four times apiece.
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The truncated schedule has the effect of creating three 10-team leagues, with most postseason matchups between clubs that have yet to face each other during the regular season. With that in mind, I wonder if it would be a better idea to sort out the wildcards by taking the best four non-division winning records from across all of baseball and rewriting the playoff-tree to reflect teams’ seedings regardless of league of origin.
That won’t happen either though. The MLB and MLBPA were unable to agree on almost nothing of import leading up to the announcement of 2020 baseball. It’s unlikely they’ll agree to anything sensible now.
But all that’s neither here nor there. We will have baseball in 2020, and maybe that’s enough. Thanks for reading.