If Trump wins a second term, he should try this approach next year with the Olympics when Japan inevitably ends up agonizing over whether to hold them as scheduled. “We can hold them in America!” he could say. “We’ve already culled our weak and elderly and practically everyone else has been infected and recovered. It’s the safest place on earth.”
I sense the media would react to the idea of rewarding America for its massive pandemic failure in that scenario more harshly than it will this similar proposal from Governor Death Toll.
“New York state could host any Major League Baseball game that any teams want to play and they could play those games in our stadiums,” the governor said in a briefing on Tuesday. “New York state has one of the lowest infection rates in the United States. New York state has a full Department of Health protocol system in place. We have a testing system in place. I offer to Major League Baseball, if you’re having problems playing in other states, come play here.”…
Cuomo said that guaranteeing the continuation of the baseball season would be “good for the economy, I think it would be good for the psyche, I think it would be good for the nation’s soul.”…
“We could set up a protocol where you get on a private plane in a high risk state, you land in New York, you are transported directly from a plane to a quarantine hotel,” Cuomo said. “You are in the quarantine hotel and tested in the quarantine hotel. If you are negative, you play ball.”
There are at least 15 minor-league stadiums in New York in addition to the home fields of the Mets and Yankees, notes Politico. The Toronto Blue Jays have already commandeered one in Buffalo, as they’re barred from playing at home this year. (Canada doesn’t want to bring any disease-infested Americans north of the border.) The lesson of the Miami Marlins’ fiasco does appear to be that you need a “bubble” around your league in order to have any chance of playing an entire season, and the smaller the bubble, the better. The NBA’s shrunk it down to a single complex in Orlando. Cuomo’s offering a bubble the size of his state, which really has managed to keep new infections at a rock-bottom level.
I wonder if Trump might end up backing Cuomo on this idea. He celebrated the resumption of baseball season a few days ago by playing catch with Mariano Rivera at the White House. It would be a demoralizing blow for the country and maybe for his reelection effort if the first sport to reopen this summer had to shut down within a week because it couldn’t survive its first encounter with the virus. As much as Trump would hate to see Cuomo benefit politically from MLB moving to New York, particularly because one of Florida’s teams couldn’t stay healthy in its own corner of the country, it’s a less bad outcome for him than the league shutting down for the year would.
Speaking of which, the latest daily testing on the Marlins has revealed more cases of COVID-19:
Four more members of the Miami Marlins have tested positive for the coronavirus after the latest round of testing, sources familiar with the situation confirmed to ESPN.
The Marlins have now had 17 people test positive in the past five days. On Monday, the total of confirmed cases stood at 11 players and two coaches…
The Orioles, who made a trip to Miami without playing a game, are scheduled to host the Marlins in a two-game series starting Wednesday.
The good news is that no players on the Phillies tested positive overnight despite having been on the field with Miami this past weekend. The bad news is that the outbreak among the Marlins is already threatening to have wider ripple effects on the league’s schedule: The Washington Nationals voted against traveling to Miami to play a series there this weekend and are waiting to hear back from MLB on whether that’ll be permitted. I don’t know how the league could conceivably allow teams to opt out of games haphazardly that way. Either they shut the Marlins down for a period of time to give players a chance to recover and cancel all of the team’s games during that period or they tell the Nats to show up and play.
And if they do shut the Marlins down, it’s unclear how they’d adjust for those missed games in the standings. Quarantine for COVID typically lasts two weeks; if Miami missed, say, 12 games over that period, they’d miss 20 percent of the truncated season. They’d have no chance to contend for a playoff spot once they’re back on the field, even with baseball’s expanded playoff format this year. (Not that they were likely to contend this year anyway, but still.) Imagine the same thing happening to a powerhouse squad like the Dodgers or Yankees. Or, worse, imagine a team fighting for a playoff spot ends up falling just short because they never got to play a series against the weak-ass Marlins, whom they likely would have beaten. If teams are at risk of being effectively eliminated from the postseason at any given moment due to an outbreak or to another team’s outbreak, since they simply can’t amass enough wins to qualify under their reduced schedule, how can the sport avoid a total farce in October? It’s mostly a farce at this point, granted. But we’re looking at a total farce potentially.
Even so, commissioner Rob Manfred appears to be open to it:
Asked whether there would be a point of critical mass that would cause the league to halt, Manfred said, “I think that a team losing a number of players that rendered it completely noncompetitive would be an issue that we would have to address and have to think about making a change, whether that was shutting down a part of the season, the whole season — that depends on the circumstances. Same thing with respect to league-wide. You get to a certain point league-wide where it does become a health threat and we certainly would shut down at that point.”
How do you shut down “part” of a 60-game season and have anything recognizable when you start up again? It’s unclear to me, but it sounds like they might give it a go:
Confirming various reports of this ever-changing schedule… Marlins now off until Monday, Phillies off until Friday, Yankees will play at Orioles Wednesday and Thursday.
— Tyler Kepner (@TylerKepner) July 28, 2020
Here’s Fauci this morning on whether MLB needs to throw in the towel. Not quite yet, he said, not wanting to be a wet blanket. By the way, according to the Times and to the surprise of no one anywhere, Trump’s surprise claim last week that he’d be throwing out the first pitch at an upcoming Yankees game — followed soon after by him saying he wouldn’t have time — was a juvenile fit of jealousy about Fauci being invited to throw the first pitch at the Nats’ season opener last week. Reportedly the Yankees’ team president had issued him a standing invite awhile back to throw out the first pitch at some point and Trump decided to take him up on it because he can’t stand not being the center of attention, especially relative to the people in his immediate circle. His announcement on Twitter that he’d throw the first pitch at a game on August 15 apparently came as a surprise to the Yankees themselves.
Dr. Anthony Fauci to @GStephanopoulos on the MLB: “I don't believe they need to stop but we need to follow this and see what happens with other teams on a day-by-day basis.” https://t.co/JgCvhTifYS pic.twitter.com/Y9g7NL5HmG
— Good Morning America (@GMA) July 28, 2020