COVID19

Mets Negative Tests Cause For Some Positivity

One day, the Mets were going for a sweep of the Marlins. The next, an unnamed player and coach tested positive for COVID19.

Since the initial positive test results, early indications are the virus has not spread through the Mets roster . . . at least not yet.

We do know it’s possible we will see someone else test positive within the next day or so. It’s possible we could have another Marlins or Cardinals situation on our hands. Maybe not.

The only thing we know right now is the Mets “only” have two positive test results. The more days pass in which that remains the case, the better.

Hopefully, in a year where so much has gone wrong, this may be the one thing which goes right. Maybe, a Mets organization who has handled nearly every medical issue as incompetently as possible could have handled this better than anyone.

Hey, it’s 2020, MUCH stranger things have happened.

Whatever the case, let’s all keep hoping the Mets players and coaching staff keep testing negative. If that continues, we get closer to the return of Mets baseball. More important than that, we will see a situation where players and coaches avoided getting infected.

Joe Kelly Suspension Shows Rob Manfred Not Taking COVID19 Seriously

Take a look across professional sports right now. The NHL and NBA created bubbles for their players, and they are not producing positive COVID19 tests. It’s something MLB could’ve done but didn’t.

Take for instance the Rogers Centre. It’s literally a baseball stadium with its own hotel. Players for a certain amount of teams could’ve been there and played games there.

Major League Baseball could’ve opted to set up other bubbles as well. Instead, they opted for little to no precautions. Players are free to roam about, and they travel from city to city. It’s the exact circumstance which helped create the Marlins outbreak.

With respect to that outbreak, Major League Baseball let the Marlins decide whether they should play Sunday’s game. That’s right. An infected team awaiting more test results which would come back positive, made the decision to play.

We know the Marlins have seen over half their team infected and see their season out on hiatus for a week. At this point, we really don’t know when they’ll have a sufficient amount of negative tests to either return to play or ever field a roster.

Because of that game on Sunday, the Phillies have been shut down for five days. That was necessary to ensure the Phillies have had sufficient rounds of testing to make sure their exposure did not lead to another outbreak.

This has led to the Yankees and Orioles playing because they didn’t have an opponent to play. So, two teams are shut down and two others have their schedule changed on the fly.

You’d think after seeing what had transpired and how other leagues are handling this vastly superior, you’d think Rob Manfred, and Major League Baseball would realize they need to send a very clear message all protocols must be followed to ensure the 2020 season won’t be cancelled.

They didn’t, and worse yet, they completely and utterly failed in their first real chance to send a message about how seriously they are taking COVID19.

Joe Kelly was given an eight game suspension for his head hunting and taunting actions in the game against the Astros. Looking at that game, he threw near the heads of Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa.

While you may want to argue the length, it’s clear Kelly merited a suspension. You can’t allow pitchers to throw near the heads of players even if those players cheated their way to a World Series and suffered no consequences.

The Kelly suspension was a clear message MLB will not tolerate head hunting. It’s a good message. In fact, it’s as good a message as telling everyone COVID19 protocols need not be followed is horrifically bad.

After Kelly walked away and was mocking Carlos Correa back to the dugout, Correa was going to have none of it. COVID19 or not, he was going to give Kelly a piece of his mind.

And so, instead of following protocols designed to keep everyone safe, Correa started yelling and heading towards the Dodgers dugout. He was restrained and the benches cleared. Everyone who was distancing according to the rules no longer was.

It didn’t matter to Correa there’s a pandemic. It didn’t matter the Marlins team has an outbreak threatening the season. It doesn’t matter numbers are spiking in Houston. All that mattered was his feelings were hurt.

There were people on the field like Dusty Baker, who are high risk. At 71, COVID19 could prove fatal to Baker, but that doesn’t matter. Correa’s swing was mocked.

Inasmuch as Correa didn’t care, Major League Baseball didn’t care. There were no fines, no suspensions, no public statements. This incident went completely unaddressed.

It went unaddressed at a time where we don’t know when or if the Marlins can play again. It went unaddressed in a city with spiking numbers.

No Astros player faced any ramifications for their actions. Between this and the sign stealing, you have to wonder what, if any, of Major League Baseball’s rules actually apply to the Astros players.

You also have to wonder if Rob Manfred actually cares that there’s a pandemic. He’s purposefully having people play the game in cities with increasing numbers. He let an infected Marlins team play another team. He didn’t even bother to issue a weak statement telling players to remember the protocols set in place to keep everyone healthy.

In the end, it’s hard to find evidence Manfred actually cares if people contact COVID19 or not.

Does An MLB Team Have A Moral Obligation To Not DFA Players Right Now?

Before yesterday’s game, the Mets designated Tyler Bashlor for assignment to add David Peterson to the 30 man roster. With the Mets needing a starter and Peterson not on the 30 or 40 yet, the Mets needed to make this move to add him. Looking at the Mets roster, you can certainly make the case Bashlor was the player who should have been designated for assignment.

However, with all that is happening right now, it is fair to ask whether the Mets did the right thing by designating Bashlor for assignment.

Baseball is a business, and there are always tough decisions to make. The Mets made one of them, and on paper, it made sense. However, when you look at what is happening with the Miami Marlins, you do wonder if morally it was the right move to put Bashlor in a precarious situation.

The Miami Marlins have seen over half their roster test positive for COVID19. This has put the Marlins in a precarious spot as they don’t know when their players will be able to return to play. As such, they are in the position where they basically have to go out and claim nearly every player who is put on waivers. With one of the things the Marlins desperately need is pitching, Bashlor may soon have to make a decision.

If the Marlins claim Bashlor, he is going to have to decide between going to a Marlins team we all know is infected with COVID19 or opting out of the season. If he opts out for the season, there is a possibility his MLB career is over, which is something players like Brock Holt have spoken about when begrudgingly deciding to play.

That is an awful situation for a player. On the one hand, he may have to pick playing for a team and exposing himself to a virus which has created long term health issues for other player. On the other, his career, the thing he has worked for his entire life, could be gone. It’s why we see players like Chase d’Arnaud sending out tweets saying he is available to play.

In the end, Bashlor may have a decision to make. Maybe for him it is an easy one to make. Maybe, it isn’t. Where his mind is doesn’t necessarily change the fact having to choose between health and a career is a very difficult decision, and you don’t want to have to see people grapple with a decision like that.

You have to assume general managers across baseball are aware of this. When Bashlor was released, Brodie Van Wagenen had to know he was potentially sending him to the largest COVID19 hotbed in not just Major League Baseball, but also the country. You’d like to think Van Wagnenen at least struggled with the decision.

In the end, designating a player like Bashlor for assignment was the right thing to do in terms of baseball. In terms of what is ethical and moral, it is a real gray area which honestly probably does not have a definitive right or wrong answer.

After all, by designating Bashlor for assignment, he is being given the opportunity to go somewhere else to have a chance to play and succeed. That aspect cannot be ignored. For that matter, the pandemic cannot be ignored either, and as we are seeing with the Marlins, this pandemic doesn’t care if this is your chance to prove yourself. It just infects you.

That leaves the rest of baseball wondering if it is worth being on the same field as you. The Washington Nationals voted to not play the Marlins. Soon, Bashlor may have to decide if he wants to pitch for the Marlins or go home, possibly forever.

That’s the situation the Mets have put him in by designating him for assignment. That’s why it is at least fair to ask whether the team should’ve considered the ramifications of their decision and whether they should have kept him for those very reasons.

Carlos Correa Must Receive A Lengthy Suspension

Major League Baseball is currently facing its worst case scenario. With over half of the Miami Marlins team being infected with COVID19, they’ve been shut down for a week as baseball tries to figure out an alternate schedule to their alternate schedule on the fly.

At the moment, while no one is saying it, no one knows if the Marlins will be able to field a team in a week. We also don’t know what the Philadelphia Phillies tests results will look like in a day or two. To a certain extent, the 2020 baseball season is hanging by a thread.

That is the backdrop to what happened in Houston last night.

Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly was lightning rod. First, on a 3-0 pitch, he threw behind Alex Bregman. With this being the Dodgers-Astros, and with the cheating scandal, you can’t help but wonder if this was a message. On that point, it must be noted Kelly wasn’t part of that Dodgers team, and he was part of the Red Sox team who beat the Astros in the ALCS.

Things got worse from there.

In the ensuing at-bat, Michael Brantley would spike Kelly, who was covering first on the fielder’s choice. Brantley also apparently had something to say to Kelly after the play.

The inning continued with Kelly, who never had good control, walking Yuli Gurriel on four pitches. Then came the critical Carlos Correa at-bat.

In the at-bat, Kelly lost control of a curve and it came in on Correa.

Later in the at-bat, Kelly struck out Correa, and he taunted him on the way back to the dugout. Correa was not about to be shown up like that, and he instead yelled at Kelly, started moving towards him, and ultimately, he caused the benches to empty.

Lets start with the obvious. No, Kelly should not be throwing at or near people’s heads. That’s not alright, and it merits a suspension in its own right even with Kelly claiming it wasn’t on purpose and his referencing his viral video of his breaking his own window during the shutdown.

The cynic in you wonders if Kelly was playing the long game here.

On Correa, Major League Baseball needs to come down hard on him. We’re in the middle of a pandemic, and there are protocols in place to stop and help prevent the spread of COVID19.

More than the pandemic, there’s the aforementioned situation with the Marlins. Despite all of that, Correa ignored all the protocols, and he didn’t go back to the dugout like Kelly was. He caused the benches to clear.

With what is happening with the Marlins, MLB promised to be more stringent in enforcing the protocols. This was the complete opposite of that. This was causing 50+ people to be in face-to-face contact with one another.

Major League Baseball needs to deliver a message this is not permissible. They need to get control and strictly enforce the measures in place to stop another outbreak and to permit baseball to have a 2020 season.

We can dicker on what constitutes a significant suspension, especially in a 60 game season. Whatever that line is, Correa must receive a significant and lengthy suspension. In fact, a season suspension should not be off the table.

That may seem absurd, but consider this. If a player, coach, or manager, who was on that field had COVID19, Correa’s actions created a situation where that person could’ve more easily spread the virus. Suddenly, we’re now talking three teams shut down. At that point, no one is playing baseball, and the season might be over.

Taking that and everything into account, Correa must be suspended.

Brandon Nimmo Didn’t Say Masks Don’t Work

With the Marlins having a rash of players testing positive for COVID19, there seems to be renewed focus on what players should be doing to protect themselves when they’re on the field. To wit, Brandon Nimmo was asked about wearing a mask while playing, and his answer wasn’t great:

The mask discussion is one which never seems to go well, and this was no exception. The part of this quote which was oft cited and criticized was, “Actually for me, I think [the mask] does more harm than good.”

Honestly, it wasn’t the best quote, and it lost some of the measures Nimmo said he is undertaking. Many who reacted didn’t leave much room for interpretation. Although to be fair, that quote didn’t necessarily call for it.

On that note, Justin Toscano of nj.com proffered his interpretation of the quote:

The quote may not invite that interpretation, but there may have been more in the question and answer period with reporters which led to that understanding. If you’re still skeptical, Nimmo’s wife provided further context:

On that note, there is a very valid point to not wearing a mask in center. There are no protocols in place which suggest you need masks outdoors while you’re well outside of six feet from another person.

If we want to get into whether he should be wearing a mask at the plate, on the base paths, and in the dugout, that’s a worthwhile discussion. What we’re all doing to prevent the spread of COVID19 is a worthwhile and important discussion, and we all should be having it.

Getting back to Nimmo, he apparently took the position masks aren’t necessary while playing center field. He’s actually correct there. He’s also apparently taking precautions when he’s out in public. That’s great.

Overall, his quote needed to be better to match his actual thoughts, actions, and intentions. It was a poorly stated point, and it won’t be the first or last time a ballplayer fails to fully articulate their point. Fortunately, despite the statement, it appears Nimmo does wear masks when necessary, which is good for him, his family, and the public at large.

Marlins COVID19 Outbreak Means MLB Needs To Shut Down Right Now

Less than a week ago, the Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves played two exhibition games. After those games, while they have not tested positive, Travis d’Arnaud and Tyler Flowers were shut down with COVID19 symptoms. As a result, they missed the first series of the season.

The healthy Braves travelled to New York, and they played a series against the Mets. As far as we know, the test results for players and personnel on both teams have not been released.

The Marlins went to Philadelphia to play a three game series. Unlike the Braves, the Marlins have seen a rash of positive tests. So far, we know Jorge Alfaro, Jose Urena, Garrett Cooper, and Harold Ramirez have tested positive. While the other names of players and Marlins personnel have not been released, we know there are more . . . a significant number more.

We know the other Marlins players and Phillies players are awaiting test results. They’re not expected for 24-48 hours. There’s somewhat of a problem here.

Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio had epidemiologist Dr. Zach Binney on this morning. Dr. Binney explained although there could be additional Marlins and new Phillies infected this first round of tests may come back negative. That’s a problem which could only be solved with quarantine or self isolation for five days.

At the moment, the Marlins have been kept in Philadelphia and did not travel to Baltimore to play the Orioles. Tonight’s game has been postponed.

The Yankees, who have traveled to Philadelphia to play the Phillies, are stuck in their hotel as tonight’s game has been postponed. That seems like a fair course of action considering the Yankees will be using the same visitors’ clubhouse the Marlins used.

On the Yankees, they just played a Washington Nationals team who saw Juan Soto test positive. At least according to Dr. Binney’s statements, the Nationals may still see more positives. Those players might’ve infected the Yankees players.

At this point, we just don’t know.

We also don’t know what impact this will have on players and their families. Zack Wheeler just pitched against the Marlins, and his wife recently delivered twins. His entire family, who are all high risk, might’ve been infected.

Freddie Freeman was healthy enough to play against the Mets after his own bout with COVID19. As he had fevers over 104 degrees, he was praying for his life.

Boston Red Sox pitcher, Eduardo Rodriguez had COVID19 as well. Currently, he is being tested and evaluated for myocarditis, a condition which diminishes the heart’s ability to pump blood. The myocarditis stems from his COVID19 infection.

We have no idea how this disease will impact people. As we see with Rodriguez, just because you don’t die doesn’t mean you won’t experience significant health issues as a direct result of this disease.

It should be noted Rodriguez’s Red Sox are facing a Mets team who may or may not be infected.

At this very moment, there’s the potential the Braves, Marlins, Mets, Phillies, Nationals, and Yankees have been exposed and infected. There could be more teams past them. For instance, the Royals and Rays have had players test positive this month.

Until MLB can do sufficient testing while accounting for an incubation period, the sport needs to be shut down. For now, based on epidemiologist suggestion, that’s at least five days. Once we get through this period, MLB can then decide if it’s safe to return to play, another five days are needed, or quite possibly, they need to shut it all down.

Regardless of the decision, one thing is clear. No one, especially those teams in the NL and AL East, should be playing today or even tomorrow. Time to shut it down and hope games can begin again soon.

16 Postseason Teams Makes Sense For 2020 Season

On the eve of the season, there was an agreement for the MLB postseason in 2020 to be expanded to 16 teams (eight teams per league). While this may be a shock to people, especially those who still don’t like the Wild Card, for this season, it makes sense.

Due to a myriad of factors, the 60 game season was the best we could do. That’s just 37% of a typical Major League Baseball season. As we have learned, you really get no feel for how good or bad a team truly is over 60 game stretches.

For example, the World Series champion Washington Nationals were 27-33 (.450) over the first 60 games of the 2019 season. In the middle of June, they would win five straight and nine of 11. That would start a 60 game streak which would see them go 41-19 (.683). Overall, the Nationals were 93-69 (.574).

Of course, this shows they were not as good as they were during their best 60 game stretch, and they were not as bad as they were during their worst 60 game stretch. As these things usually go, they were somewhere in the middle albeit closer to their best stretch.

This is not unusual for teams at all. Even the worst teams in baseball have good 60 game stretches, and the best teams have poor 60 game stretches. That is the beauty of the 162 game season. We get a true feel for who exactly are the best teams in the sport. When you are able to get that, you know your postseason is really among the best teams in the sport.

In 2020, we don’t know that at all. As we see with the Nationals, the World Series champions would’ve missed the postseason this year with a poor 60 game stretch. Conversely, the Angels could’ve made the postseason. From May 25 – July 31, the Angels had a 60 games stretch where they went 34-26. That could have propelled them into the postseason under the current rules. Remember, this is an Angels team which finished 18 games under .500 last year.

That’s why an expanded postseason is necessary. There needs to be some form of a mitigation against the randomness of a 60 game schedule. MLB should permit for the best teams to get a crack at winning a World Series even if they did get off to a slow start. It’s the best way to handle not having the games truly necessary to determine which are the best teams.

There’s another reason for the expanded postseason. Baseball fans were deprived of the sport for nearly nine months because of this pandemic. If you can give those fans even two more games for the best-of-three opening series, it is well worth it. Let them have some chance to see their favorite team for a few more games before the sport goes away again for who knows how long? After all, there is still no vaccine.

So yes, expand the 2020 postseason in an effort to truly identify the best team. Expand the postseason to allow fans to just get that much more baseball. However, leave this for just 2020 as there is no need to expand the postseason to incorporate potentially mediocre to under .500 teams after we’ve had a full 162 game season to truly determine the best teams in the sport.

Eliminate 2020 Home Run Trots

During a Mets intrasquad game, Yoenis Cespedes launched a homer off of Seth Lugo, and he promptly went back to his seat.

There are a number of reasons why Cespedes did this. It could’ve been this was just an intrasquad game. It could be part of his working his way back. It could just be part of the eccentricities that make Cespedes Cespedes.

Whatever the case, Cespedes is onto something here. During the 2020 season, there’s no need to have home run trots. In fact, it should be eliminated all together.

Even though MLB is coming back to play, there is still a pandemic which necessitates social distancing when possible. Yes, a batter, catcher, and home plate umpire are well within six feet of one another, but they are not on top of every player on the field.

When a player homers, he doesn’t necessarily need to get within six feet of all four infielders, three umpires. and the catcher and home plate umpire again. Instead, he can head back to the bench and minimize contact with other players.

Admittedly, this is absolutely overkill, and trotting past those people will very likely no cause a threat of infection. To even contemplate the risk of infection from this simple act could be ludicrous.

And yet, there’s still a pandemic which threatens to shut baseball down at some point in the season. To the extent you can eliminate any threats of infection, you have to do it.

It’s why stands are being utilized for players to promote distancing efforts. There’s a new ball for every pitch and play (even if multiple people touch the ball anyway). It’s why players are not allowed to stand in CF away from everyone and spit.

In the end, eliminating home run trots may not help the distancing, but then again, it might.

Remember, there are players who watch these trots to try to adjudge the respectfulness of the trot to the game, opposing team, and the pitcher. At times, this starts a war of words with players rushing towards each each screaming with some light pushing. This is the absolute last thing we need to see with this pandemic.

We cannot allow the hot heads and self appointed arbitrators of the sport potentially put everyone at the risk of infection. The best way to avoid that is to eliminate the home run trots. That’s at least until we have moved to a point where we can safely commingle again.

So yes, this is an extreme measure many can argue will have zero impact on reducing the threat of the spread of COVID19. Then again, it could, and in the end, that’s why MLB should contemplate eliminating the home run trot this season.

Buster Posey Made Right Decision To Sit Out 2020 Season

Giants catcher and future Hall of Famer Buster Posey announced he was sitting out the 2020 season. This led to some dumb speculation on what impact it would have on his legacy. When you peel it back, his legacy doesn’t matter one iota here.

This is about the safety and health of Posey’s family. His family has adopted Twin girls who were born premature. To help keep them safe, he’s sitting out the season. The extra benefit here is going to be the time he otherwise would not get to bond with his children.

Yes, Posey’s decision was made easier because he’s made over $146 million in his career, and he’s going to be paid over $44 million over the rest of his contract. However, that shouldn’t take away from the fact he unequivocally did the right thing.

Consider that none of that $186 million could ever replace those children. It can’t replace his health which could be forever impacted. That’s been the case with Freddie Freeman. Freeman’s battle with COVID19 led Nick Markakis to sit out the season.

In the ensuing days and weeks, we’re going to see other players make the same decision Posey made. At the moment, we know Mike Trout and Zack Wheeler are wrestling with the same decisions to protect their pregnant wives and unborn children. If Trout or Wheeler make the same decision, they should be commended.

In the end, nothing is more important than your family. Posey understood that, and he made the right decision. Everyone should congratulate him on adopting twin girls and already doing all he can do to protect them.

Freddie Freeman Is Exactly Why David Price Was Right To Sit Out 2020 Season

While the initial data from the first round of COVID19 testing was couched as “good,” we’re seeing that really isn’t the case. After all, this isn’t just about how many are confirmed infected, but rather, that players are infected.

With COVID19, everyone seems to experience it differently. For some, they’re asymptomatic. For others, like Freddie Freeman, it’s much, much worse. As his wife explained:

As Freeman’s wife, Chelsea Freeman explained, COVID19 “hit him like a tom of bricks.” Despite what some might believe, COVID19 affects athletes the same as other people. On that note, we don’t know what the long term effects of this disease will be.

Another important factor here is the lengths to which the Freeman family undertook to protect themselves. According to them, they’ve been socially isolating as much a possible only interacting with family. And yet, Freeman still contracted this disease.

That speaks to how contagious COVID19 is. Between how contagious it is, players eventually getting in close proximity with one another, and the effects it can take on someone’s health, you understand why other players may be nervous.

There’s also the scary incident at Yankees camp yesterday. Giancarlo Stanton hit a line drive off the head of Masahiro Tanaka. Tanaka had to be taken to the hospital for examination thereby potentially exposing him to COVID19 infected individuals. Fortunately, reports are Tanaka are alright after that scary incident.

This has led to Mike Trout publicly hand wringing over whether he should play or stay home to protect his pregnant wife’s health. It’s now led David Price to opt out of the season.

Price is making a decision to protect him and his family. That undeniably makes this the right decision. When you look at what Freeman is going through, it is fair for players to say the risk is too much and walk away from the 2020 season.

Price is certainly the most recognizable player to make this decision, and he won’t be the last. In fact, Felix Hernandez made the same decision, and he will not be pitching for the Braves this year.

Players who sit out this season should be commended. They’re doing exactly what they need to do – protect their families. That is far more important than “being a good teammate.”

Such a charge against Price would be nonsense anyway. This is the same player well respected by teammates throughout his career, and he’s the player who stepped up and who paid out $1,000 to the 220 minor leaguers in the Dodgers farm system ($220,000 total). That’s being a good teammate and a better person.

Price made the right decision, and he should be commended for it. If you have any doubt, look at the teams with building cases as well as how much Freeman has been affected by COVID19.