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Tuesday Bird Droppings: The 2020 MLB experiment is on the brink of disaster

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Starting a season in the midst of a pandemic was always fraught with risk, and now the worst-case scenario might have arrived.

MLB: World Series-Washington Nationals at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Welp, I hope you all enjoyed the 2020 Orioles season! We had some good times, didn’t we? There was that win in Boston and...that other win in Boston.

After yesterday’s deflating events in the baseball world, there’s a very real possibility that the Orioles, and all of Major League Baseball, will have to pack it in and cancel the rest of a 2020 season that’s not even a week old.

On Sunday, an outbreak of COVID-19 decimated the Miami Marlins, who had four players test positive and — against all reason — decided to play that afternoon’s scheduled game against the Phillies anyway. The decision was apparently made not by anyone with any expertise on how the virus spreads, but rather by the players themselves, which is already being seen as a grievous mistake.

After the game, eight more Marlins players and two coaches also received positive tests, forcing the club to remain quarantined in Philadelphia instead of traveling home to Miami, where they were to face the Orioles yesterday and today. Both those games have been postponed, and the Birds, who had flown into Miami on Sunday night, have returned to Baltimore. The Phillies, too, scrapped their scheduled Monday contest against the Yankees as their players and staff underwent further testing.

And so here we are. Three games into the season, COVID-19 has already run roughshod through one team, and — pending the next batch of test results — possibly at least one more. This shouldn’t have been a surprising result for a league that tried to restart its season in the middle of an unchecked pandemic, and yet MLB seems woefully unprepared for how to handle it. The league didn’t have any guidance in place as to when a game should be canceled — hence the Marlins recklessly soldiering forth with Sunday’s game despite no input from health experts — and there are no specific criteria for how to handle an outbreak within a team or what would necessitate a league-wide shutdown. Great planning, guys.

In fact, MLB seems determine to soldier on. Nine major league games went on as scheduled last night, and commissioner Rob Manfred said on MLB Network that even the Marlins could resume playing this week, potentially busing to Baltimore on Wednesday if the rest of their club tests negative before then. Never mind that the virus can potentially incubate for two to 14 days in a person before they test positive. It’s an idea that an epidemiologist called, “if possible, the literal stupidest possible plan.” Again, great to see that MLB is totally on the ball here.

The coming days will reveal a lot about whether playing 60 games, or even a fraction of that, is feasible. Trying to play baseball in 2020 was always a risky proposition, and now the season may be crumbling before our eyes.

Well...at least we can always remember that Boston series.

Poll

If the season is over, who was the 2020 Most Valuable Oriole?

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    Hanser Alberto (.500 BA, 1.155 OPS)
    (21 votes)
  • 15%
    Alex Cobb (1.69 ERA, tied for team lead in wins)
    (56 votes)
  • 49%
    Jose Iglesias (.538 BA, 1.308 OPS, team-leading seven hits)
    (175 votes)
  • 11%
    Rio Ruiz (team-leading two HRs and 1.333 OPS)
    (42 votes)
  • 16%
    Anthony Santander (1.061 OPS, HR, team-leading four RBIs)
    (60 votes)
354 votes total Vote Now

Links

Manfred says Orioles and Marlins won’t play Tuesday night - School of Roch
Roch Kubatko has more from Manfred’s interview on MLB Network about the immediate future of the Marlins and Orioles series. Somehow I don’t feel confident in Rob Manfred to make the right decision, based on, oh, his entire tenure as commissioner so far.

3 takeaways from Orioles opening weekend - Orioles.com
I’m not sure I agree with Joe Trezza’s assessment that “the pitching is already better,” considering the Orioles gave up 19 runs in their opening series. Sure, most of those came on Opening Day, but you can’t just ignore one game when they’ve only played three.

New Oriole Isaac Mattson is closing in on the majors (with video) - Steve Melewski
Melewski interviews Dylan Bundy trade acquisition Isaac Mattson, who seems like a pretty bright and studious fellow. Who knows if he’ll make it to the majors this season — if there even is a major league season much longer — but best of luck to him.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Three former Orioles were born on this day, including a guy who was on the team just last year, Drew Jackson (27). If you don’t remember him, that’s understandable — he was a Rule 5 pick who spent just three games with the Birds before being sent back to the Dodgers. Also celebrating birthdays today are 2001 right-hander Chad Paronto (45) as well as 1988-92 righty Bob Milacki (56), who started the Orioles’ four-pitcher combined no-hitter on July 13, 1991.

On this day in 1971, Frank Robinson crushed a walkoff, three-run homer against Hall of Fame closer Rollie Fingers to beat the A’s, 3-2. The Athletics had scored two unearned runs thanks to an uncharacteristic three-error performance by 16-time Gold Glover Brooks Robinson.

On this date in 1978, Rich Dauer set a club record with his 10th consecutive multi-hit game, capped by a go-ahead, two-run double in the seventh inning to beat the Angels. The streak was especially surprising coming from Dauer, who was just a career .257 hitter.

The Orioles have made four trades on this date in history — two good, two not so much. On the positive side, in 1995, they acquired Bobby Bonilla from the Mets for three prospects; Bonilla provided a quality bat for a year and a half in Baltimore, including the 1996 wild card team. And in 2000, the O’s made another trade with the Mets, swapping pending free agent shortstop Mike Bordick for a package that included future All-Star and Orioles Hall of Famer Melvin Mora. (And one year after that trade — to the day — Mora and his wife welcomed quintuplets.)

On the ugly side, on this day in 1989 the O’s acquired veteran hitter Keith Moreland to try to boost their surprising “Why Not?” club, only for him to post a .524 OPS in 33 games and abruptly announce his retirement in September. And in 2017, the O’s swapped struggling fan favorite Hyun-Soo Kim to the Phillies to inexplicably acquire Jeremy Hellickson, who openly discussed how much he hated pitching at Camden Yards. Sure enough, Hellickson posted a 6.97 ERA in 10 starts for the Birds.