MLB faces major coronavirus hurdles outside of bubble


As the 30 Major League Baseball teams prepare for their summer camps ahead of the scheduled July 23 start of the 2020 60-game truncated regular season, they have dealt with a slew of positive coronavirus cases from some famous players who have contributed at some break from a few other sports superstars.

Atlanta All-Star Freddie Freeman was among four Braves who tested positive for COVID-19. New York Yankees All-Star DJ LeMahieu, former Colorado Rockies teammate Charlie Blackmon, Kansas City Royals wide receiver Salvador Perez, and manager Mike Matheny all tested positive, though Matheny has since recovered. Four Miami Marlins and four Minnesota Twins, including Miguel Sano, were also among the 1.2% of players who test positive for coronavirus, still a much lower rate than the 5.3% of the NBA or the 2.7% of the MLS.

This, of course, is very good news. But that hasn’t stopped veterans like LA Dodgers’ David Price, Colorado’s Ian Desmond, Arizona’s Mike Leake, Washington’s Ryan Zimmerman and Atlanta’s Felix Hernandez from retiring. And that has led superstars like Mike Trout of the LA Angels and Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants to consider skipping the 2020 season as well.

The challenge for MLB, the only league to attempt a summer revival of play outside of a closed urban bubble, is to keep this testing rate low going forward. The NBA, MLS, and WNBA are all trying their reboots in bubbles in Florida, where cases are growing faster than successful launches at Cape Canaveral. Baseball will face an extremely long list of variables in requiring its 30 teams to play their schedules in their individual home markets.

As part of the MLB 113-page manual, players and some staff will undergo temperature checks twice a day at the team’s facilities and be tested for the coronavirus every other day. There’s also the aspect of air travel, hotel stays on road trips and eating out at different restaurants and the allure of visiting cities that have viral risks at every turn, especially places. with varying levels of restrictions across the country, which all other summer leagues considered too potentially dangerous at the moment.

On top of all this, baseball is just an inherently unhealthy sport. I mean, any batted ball that doesn’t go through the air goes into a clay infield beaten by more than a dozen players. Pitchers who normally lick their fingers to better grip the baseballs they want to shoot in front of 100 mph hitters will instead have wet rags in their pockets. Baseballs touched by more than one player will be replaced. Chewing and spitting sunflower seeds or tobacco, the team spreads that are a staple of big league clubs are out. Showering in the pavilions is somehow permitted, although strongly discouraged.

Then there’s the aspect of many of these teams playing and traveling for matches in coronavirus hotspots across the United States. Although the teams are limited to their different geographic regions, the Eastern Division teams will only play Eastern Division teams from the US and National Leagues, even for the Center and West – the Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays will play. still in Florida, where there was a state record 11,458 cases Saturday. Those teams will still need to travel to Atlanta, where the average number of seven-day cases in Cobb County more than tripled over the past two weeks.

The intensive care units at Houston hospitals are overwhelmed and they are not much better in the Dallas Metroplex, where the Astros and Rangers will try to play. And when not at home, those teams will be spending a lot of time in California, where increasing cases recently caused new restrictions in 19 different counties. Can the Dodgers, Angels, Giants, Oakland Athletics and San Diego Padres reliably stay safe there while also traveling to other western states? That certainly includes Arizona, where the seven-day average in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix and the Diamondbacks, remains alarming and rising.

With so much that can go wrong inside the stadium, and traveling to cities of varying degrees of risk across the country, will baseball ultimately regret trying to play its 2020 season outside of it? ‘a bubble ? I guess there is only one way to find out. Beat?

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