The Miami Marlins are finally returning to action with a four-game series against the Baltimore Orioles. Their coronavirus crisis had forced Major League Baseball to postpone seven of the Marlins’ ball games as they were self-quarantined in Philadelphia for a week. A combined 20 ball players and coaches tested positive and were eventually sent back to Miami in sleeper buses. The healthy ball players and coaches have traveled to Baltimore with the hope of resuming their season without any further incidents.
The Marlins have been criticized for being irresponsible and making unwise decisions on the road which led to their health emergency. Derek Jeter, Chief Executive Officer of the Marlins, provided further information confirming that ball players did indeed let their guards down and became too comfortable being around each other. According to Jeter, there was a false sense of security among the traveling party as some left the hotel for coffee, clothes, and even dinner at a teammate’s house. Social distancing and the wearing of masks were not being practiced with great regularity in Atlanta and Philadelphia.
Major League Baseball is desperately trying to continue with its abbreviated season while battling various outbreaks and scheduling nightmares. Ball players are also making the difficult decision to opt out of competition in mid-season and be placed on the restricted list. The presence of coronavirus protocol compliance officers for each ball club speaks to the severity of the situation. As the Marlins cautiously resume their season, it appears as if the St. Louis Cardinals are now confronting their own coronavirus crisis with 13 positive tests over the past week.
Not too long ago, the Marlins were upbeat and honestly believed anything could happen over the course of 60 games. The expanded postseason structure to include eight ball clubs per league was additional motivation. Now, the Marlins must adopt a new mind set amid the chaos and roster upheaval. They must quickly pick up the pieces and assemble an entirely different major league ball club than the one that had started the season on Opening Day two weeks ago.
A vastly improved farm system with multiple highly regarded prospects might seem like an obvious reservoir of talent for the Marlins. However, is it the right course of action under the current conditions? Could the Marlins jeopardize the development of these prospects if too much is asked of them or if they are infected with the coronavirus? Second baseman Isan Diaz factors prominently in the Marlins’ plans, but he has made an emotional decision to opt out for the remainder of the season.
The Marlins have been scrambling to sign veteran ball players off waivers, free agency, trades, and even in the Atlantic League. They have already added seven relief pitchers along with veteran utility ball player Logan Forsythe, who was recently released by the Philadelphia Phillies. Familiar names to Marlins’ fans such as outfielders Lewis Brinson, Matt Joyce, and Monte Harrison along with pitcher Jordan Yamamoto will be rejoining the ball club from the alternate training site. Brett Eibner is an outfielder and relief pitcher who previously played for the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Constellation Energy League before the Marlins purchased his contract.
It is inevitable that future outbreaks of the coronavirus will occur for Major League Baseball. Sadly, all the health and safety protocols cannot stop this treacherous virus unless there is strict adherence to social distancing, wearing face masks, washing hands, quarantining, and being respectful of personal space. The Miami Marlins’ irresponsibility amid a pandemic has presented a serious travel conundrum for major league ball clubs.
Ball players must embrace a solitary existence in their hotel rooms until it is time to go to the ballpark when they are on the road. Major League Baseball has taken a significant risk and placed an enormous amount of trust in the ball players. Let us hope they do not regret their decisions and look back in anger at not creating a quarantine zone like other professional sports leagues.