When the Phillies and Marlins played the final game of the opening series on Monday, they did so under a cloud of doubt as four players on the Marlins tested positive for COVID-19. Now, not even 24 hours later, news broke that number had risen from four fourteen. There is only one word to describe what is going on right now: outbreak.
With growing concern regarding whether Phillies players were infected over the course of the series, the team had no choice but to postpone tonight’s game against the New York Yankees.
All eyes are on Philadelphia as the fate of the MLB season may be decided by the next round of test results. Major League Baseball is set to hold an emergency meeting today to decide their next steps. If Phillies players test positive, and the outbreak is confirmed to have spread to a second team, the season could be in jeopardy.
While the decision to cancel tonight’s game may not be what baseball fans want, being only three games into an already shortened season, it is the right thing to do. If a Phillies player did contract COVID-19 from a Marlins player, and played tonight, then the Yankees would be at risk for infection as well. Currently, the Phillies-Yankees and Marlins-Orioles games are the only ones postponed tonight.
Social media has been buzzing since the announced cancellation, as fans and sportswriters alike call out for everything from a suspended season to the firing of Commissioner Rob Manfred. Perhaps the best option would be a two-week mandatory quarantine followed by playing the rest of the season in designated city “bubbles.”
What is often overlooked is how scary this virus can be to those infected. While some of the infected are asymptomatic, others are hit hard. Scott Kingery contracted COVID-19 in June, and told NBC Sports Philadelphia all about his battle with coronavirus. Professional athletes are not generally among the most at-risk for COVID-19, but have family members that are. An infected player is not just a tick against their team, but a serious medical threat for their own family.
Whether the Phillies continue their season tomorrow or if the season is halted, the Marlins’ outbreak is a reminder of how fragile the 2020 season is.
Shaun is a Sports Information Graduate Assistant at West Chester University, where he is currently earning his Master’s in Public Administration with a graduate certificate in Sport Management & Athletics. An alum of The University of Tampa, Shaun has worked in many different aspects of the sports industry, including NCAA Division II programs, the United Soccer League, the Reading Fightin’ Phils, and NBC Sports Philadelphia.