MLB’s reopening did not go as planned, to say the least.
Within the first week of the season, the Miami Marlins announced that 18 members of the organization tested positive for coronavirus. Monday’s game between the Marlins and Orioles was postponed, as was the two-game series between the Yankees and Phillies. The Yankees would have used the same clubhouse as the Marlins did. The Miami team will not play until next week as a precaution.
The Nationals, who are supposed to travel to Miami over the weekend, are now hesitant to play against the Marlins. Nationals manager Dave Martinez expressed serious concerns over the distressing situation.
“I’m scared. I really am,” Martinez told reporters on July 27.
Despite Martinez’s and players’ concerns, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has no plans to cancel or postpone the MLB season.
The plight of the MLB has the NFL on watch. Many players have decided to opt-out of the season and more are likely to follow. Kansas City Chiefs guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was the first to announce his decision to skip this season. Duvernay-Tardif, who is also a licensed doctor, has been working on the COVID-19 frontlines in Canada since March and will continue to do so.
Six New England Patriots, including three-time Super Bowl champion Dont’a Hightower, have also decided to opt-out of the 2020 season. Eagles’ receiver Marquise Goodwin, who has a young daughter, is opting-out as well.
The decisions that these players made are perfectly understandable. Some of the players opting out have young children or are high-risk themselves. Goodwin explained his decision by saying that he is “inclined to make the right decision by finally choosing [his] family first.”
Reactions to the MLB Outbreak
Some are wondering if the MLB outbreak proves that the NFL should be in a ‘bubble’ environment like the NBA. Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases said that “it might be that [the NFL] might have to go in a bubble.” However, the NFL currently does not have any plans to replicate a similar environment to the NBA. But is it really a good idea for sports teams to be constantly traveling across the country in the middle of a pandemic?
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote a letter to fans on Monday, which was the same day that the Marlins news broke. Goodell ensured that “safety continues to be [their] first priority; that commitment will remain paramount as players return to the field.”
Dr. Fauci also seems confident in the NFL’s ability to protect its players and other personnel. “I think they’re conscientious enough and want to protect their players and protect their personnel that they will do the right thing.”
Goodell also encouraged fans to look at the Rams’ training camp safety protocols as a good example of what is being done to protect everyone. The Rams will conduct three rounds of COVID-19 testing in the first four days of training camp. Players that test negative all three times will then be able to start football activities.
Despite a steady increase in coronavirus cases, Goodell assures the public that the NFL is prepared to handle any situation that may arise. The NFL seems to be quickly learning from MLB’s mistakes. On Tuesday, the Texans announced a plethora of new safety measures that have been implemented. No one team wants to be the reason why the season gets canceled.
Although the list of players who are opting out grows every day, the season is still scheduled to begin on September 10. 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman does not believe that the NFL season will get canceled in event of an outbreak. Sherman sees teams finding replacements for sick players or forfeiting games at worst.
“If half a team gets it, forfeit the game, and next game keep moving forward. That’s the way I see them finishing,” Sherman said in an interview with Pro Football Focus.
The NFL will definitely be watching baseball closely as the season continues. Hopefully, the outbreak within the Marlins will be the only one we see, but the MLB season is still in its early stages. The Marlins’ outbreak is just another reminder for sports teams to stay vigilant and to not take any unnecessary risks.
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