We are barely over a week into the season, and we have positive coronavirus cases in two of the three regions. It started in Atlanta, as Miami Marlins players reportedly went out at night to enjoy some late-night debauchery. Fast forward a week, and 17 Marlins players have tested positive for COVID-19. Major League Baseball have to salvage their season and they have to do it now.
Not only have Marlins players tested positive, but by playing the Phillies with confirmed cases, they put the Phillies at risk for catching coronavirus as well. Two Phillies’ clubhouse attendants (one visiting and one home clubhouse attendant) and one coach have tested positive. Given the close proximity those staffers have to players, it is highly likely that Phillies players were exposed to COVID-19. Neither the Phillies nor the Marlins have played a game since Sunday.
Meanwhile, the St. Louis Cardinals’ game against the Milwaukee Brewers tonight has been postponed as two players have tested positive. The Cardinals most recently were in Minnesota for a series at the Twins, raising questions whether the Twins were infected as well.
Now with games in two regions being postponed, there is serious doubt that the MLB will be able to finish the season. But, there is still a way. Here is how I propose Major League Baseball save the 2020 season
2-3 Week Hiatus NOW
First, I would like to make it clear that for my proposed plan to work, time is of the essence. A two to three-week hiatus would put the league restart in mid-to-late August. But, in order for any more positive cases to reveal themselves, the entire league needs to quarantine for the next two weeks.
I would even argue that the players not be allowed to return to their houses, as some players (cough, cough, Marlins) have proven to not be taking this issue seriously. If a player does not wish to stay in a team-mandated hotel and self-isolate, then they can return home and opt-out right here, right now. This would also allow players like Mike Trout and Zack Wheeler, with newborns and babies on the way, to reconsider if they want to continue playing at the risk of their families.
After the two-week quarantine, the following week would be used for the remaining healthy players to organize and prepare for the season restart. Pitchers can get back on the mound, taxi squad players can fill the gaps.
STOP, Bubble Time!
Major League Baseball is in a unique position to be able to continue the current regional play even in a bubble system. There are three hub cities (New York/Chicago/Los Angeles-Anaheim) that already possess two major league stadiums. Using two stadiums would allow for every team to play every day. Imagine a schedule where there is one morning game, two afternoon games, and two night games every day in each division?
Under this proposed idea, assuming an August 24th restart date, each team could get 30-35 games in and still end on September 27th. This schedule would allow for minimal days off and rainouts turning into cancelled games, but if the MLB wants to ensure a finished season, this is the way.
While fans may not want to wait another three weeks for another game, the current system is not working. Marlins players were lazy, but who’s to say the Cardinals players were? They could have caught coronavirus in transit, completely following MLB protocol.
Hindsight is 20/20, and while some people were calling a bubble system stupid when the MLB first conceived the idea, it has now proven to work well for both the NBA and NHL. If the MLB is to complete the 2020 season, the league needs to get with the program, or be left behind.
Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports
Shaun is a Phillies Contributor for PSN and a Sports Information Graduate Assistant at West Chester University. An alum of The University of Tampa, Shaun is an accomplished sportswriter, having covered three NCAA Division II National Champions and now the Philadelphia Phillies. Connect with Shaun on Twitter @shaun_nestor