Through weeks of players and owners negotiating over the contours of the 2020 season and weeks of warming up in MLB’s summer camp, the reality never changed that America has collectively not gotten the deadly COVID-19 outbreak under control. All anyone could do is hold their breath and hope that baseball could pull off a season. It took all of three days before there was a major incident to threaten everything.
There were four Marlins players who had tested positive prior to their series finale on Sunday. The team did not fly back to Miami last night in order to monitor the situation, and according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, there were an additional eight players and two coaches who have since tested positive. The Marlins remain in Philadelphia.
This is of immediate relevance to the Orioles because the Orioles are in Miami in order to play the Marlins for the next two games. Both teams were then scheduled to fly to Baltimore for two more games.
With such a large outbreak on one team, what the heck is going to happen next is unclear, but at least as far as Monday night goes, MLB announced on Monday morning that the Orioles-Marlins game scheduled for tonight has been postponed. There is no immediate indication about when the game might be rescheduled.
During an MLB Network interview on Monday night, commissioner Rob Manfred said that there would not be a game happening on Tuesday, either. Whether the teams are able to play a game on Wednesday depends on whether the Marlins deal with any more positive tests and whether other external problems arise.
Additionally, the Yankees-Phillies game scheduled for Monday has also been postponed. The Marlins just wrapped up a three-game series in Philadelphia, so I’m sure there’s concern over whether Phillies players were exposed or whether anything might be lingering in the visitor’s clubhouse in Philadelphia. Delaying that game by a day doesn’t do much to answer questions if the Phillies players were infected, but there can be a show of a “deep cleaning” of the Phillies visiting locker room or something.
For now, this appears to only be an issue with the Marlins. However, they also played two exhibition games with the Braves on Tuesday and Wednesday. If those opponents, or the umpires who were involved in those games, end up having big COVID problems after coming into contact with the Marlins players, it’s hard to see how that won’t put down the curtains on this attempt at having a baseball season. And even if the Marlins outbreak ends up staying limited to the Marlins, there’s still the looming threat of the virus that could pop MLB’s bubble in any number of other ways.
The Orioles made plans to return to Baltimore before there had been any official announcement about Tuesday’s game. It’s not immediately clear when or if there will be an attempt to make up this two-game series. Doubleheaders in back-to-back days in Baltimore does not seem to be one of the options.
MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported that the Marlins are looking for extra MLB quality players. It remains to be seen how much wishful thinking is involved both about the Marlins situation specifically and about MLB’s ability to continue to safely play a baseball season in general.