COVID Outbreak

The Miami Marlins have had a weekend.

Jim Rome
July 27, 2020 - 9:30 am
Miami Marlins

USA Today


The Miami Marlins have had a weekend. According to Joel Sherman, the team learned Saturday night that three players had tested positive for Covid. An additional round of testing was given yesterday before their game in Philadelphia. The results from that test would return this morning. Remember that.

In the meantime, the Marlins played yesterday’s game against the Phillies without four players, including Jose Urena, the starting pitcher. That’s in addition to the two outfielders Miami placed on the injured list earlier this month without further explanation.

I just want to repeat that part again. The Marlins played yesterday’s game against the Phillies knowing that they had been in a clubhouse with multiple players who tested positive. Remember that too.

According to Joel Sherman, the Marlins met as a team and decided to play. Miguel Rojas, one of the team leaders, said “There was never a thought that we would not play.”

He made that point again, saying not playing was “never our mentality.”

Marlins manager Don Mattingly added, “We never considered not playing [Sunday]. We are taking risks every day.”

Not only did they play, but they somehow came from down 4-0 to win going away, 11-6. Coming from four runs down, on the road, missing four players - normally, that would be a story. But not today.

Because after the game, the team made the decision that instead of flying to Miami last night, they would delay the flight until today, meaning that they would arrive a few hours before the home opener against Baltimore tonight.

As Mattingly said: "We were more comfortable flying as a group later. We're talking about these guys traveling back home to their families and their kids, and it's the reason we want to be safe.''

The players who tested positive will be left in Philadelphia for quarantine, but the plan was for the rest of the team to fly home to Miami today and play tonight.

And as another reminder, Florida is a Covid hotspot. So the team that already had four positive tests in the last few days is hopping on a plane and flying into a hotspot.

And then came this tweet from Jeff Passan. And before I read it, remember when I mentioned that the results from yesterday’s Covid tests would be coming back today? Well, they are back. And they are terrible.

Here’s the tweet from Passan: Eight more players and two coaches with the Miami Marlins have tested positive for COVID-19, as an outbreak has spread throughout their clubhouse and brought the total of cases in recent days to at least 14, sources familiar with the situation tell me and Jesse Rogers.

Eight more players and two more coaches?!? Are you kidding me? At 14 positive tests from the Marlins in the last few days. That we know about? Are you serious?

Here’s another tweet from Passan: The Marlins' home opener against the Baltimore Orioles tonight has been canceled, sources tell ESPN, as the team remains in Philadelphia and continues to undergo testing.

Not that it matters, but yes, cancelling tonight’s game is a pretty damn good idea. Really, the most obvious idea ever. AND, YANKEES-PHILLIES HAS BEEN CANCELLED AS WELL. 

And it raises the following question: why the hell was a team with four known positive tests playing yesterday?

This is a team that has its home base in a Covid hotspot, that spent a number of hours together on a bus in Atlanta last week, which is a perfect situation for spreading the virus, and now they’ve got a full-blown outbreak in their clubhouse.

And they went ahead and played a baseball game. And in doing so, gave the Phillies plenty of opportunities to be exposed to the virus. And the umpires. And anyone else who was on the field at any point. And there is now a potential ripple effects that would impact the Orioles, who were supposed to play Miami tonight, and the Yankees, who were scheduled to play the Phillies tonight.

How the hell does this happen? Wasn’t this exactly the kind of scenario that the league and the players and associated doctors should have been preparing for and thinking about for the last four months?

And you couldn’t even get out of the first weekend without a team, playing on the road, during an outbreak, and exposing who knows how many people to the virus?

How do you not have a plan for a moment like yesterday? Because it sure seems like that would be a moment you’d like to have a plan for.

Ammirite???? The moment where you have a team with four positive tests would be the moment you’d like to have a plan. But sources told The Athletic, “Those tests were not enough for either Major League Baseball or the club itself to give serious consideration to postponing this game.”

I can’t believe that?  I just cannot get my head around that. There has to be another explanation, right? I have to be missing something here. How does the league not have a policy that cancels a game involving a team with four positive tests in its clubhouse?

Because going ahead and playing that game was one of the dumbest moves possible.

Don’t take it from me. Take it from Dr. Zachary Binney, an epidemiologist at Emory University’s Oxford College. He told The Athletic that the decision to play made no sense: “Earlier, in (summer camp), if you didn’t have test results, you didn’t practice. So to have four positive results and then play a game just seems totally unaligned with that.”

Why? Because of basic stuff that we already know about the virus.

“No. 1 is, if I get a negative result back today, that doesn’t mean that I’m negative and not infectious right now. It means I was negative or not infectious when I got that test. If that was yesterday, it means I wasn’t infectious yesterday.”

And another detail, one that we’ve known for quite a while now: “this disease can take several days to show itself – by which I mean you don’t test positive immediately after you’ve been exposed. You test positive three, five, seven days after you’ve been exposed. So it’s possible that some of these players or staff are incubating the infection right now and could turn up positive when they get the results back from another round of testing, say, in a couple of days.”

In other words, when you have multiple positive tests in the clubhouse, it doesn’t mean that guys who subsequently test negative, don’t have the virus. 

And no, it’s not good enough to say that the Marlins players met before yesterday’s game and decided they wanted to play. Of course they want to play. They’re ballplayers. They want to compete.

But it shouldn’t be their decision. If they don’t want to play, I’m fine with that being their decision. But just because they’re fine with playing doesn’t mean that should be what happens.

I know it’s their mentality that they want to play. But you can’t “mentally tough” your way through a global pandemic. The virus doesn’t care about your grit and your tenacity. It doesn’t matter if you’re a gamer or a grinder. This is a virus. Not a sprained ankle. A sprained ankle doesn’t spread through the clubhouse so that suddenly you’ve got at least 14 guys with sprained ankles.  

If that’s how it really went down – if the decision was ultimately up to the Marlins players, that is beyond dumb. I really hope that’s not the case

And again, this is a team that plays its home games in a Covid hotspot. For all we know, they brought it with them from Florida. That or, whenever they actually do fly back to Florida, they’ll just be flying into a Covid hotspot. 

Fantastic. Great job, everyone. Really great job. And by really great job, I mean one of the dumbest things ever. That could not have been handled any worse than it was.