In what may be the least surprising news in of the last week, Major League Baseball is reportedly strengthening its COVID protocols following an outbreak that led to 16 Marlins players and two coaches testing positive. According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the league is mandating the use of surgical masks rather than cloth masks during travel and is requiring each team to employ a compliance officer who basically serves as a hall monitor or RA in a dorm.
While they haven’t gone so far as to institute a curfew or require that players and staff remain confined to the team hotel on the road, let alone limiting excursions from home, discretion is being strongly recommended. There has been a persistent rumor that the Marlins’ situation resulted from one or more players going out for a night on the town in Atlanta during their preseason scrimmages with the Braves, which may have contributed to the heightened vigilance.
After some initial scuttlebutt, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale took things a step further when he told 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh that some Marlins players “got careless” in Atlanta and that “at least one guy did for sure,” which led to the outbreak. Thing is, there’s really no way to confirm the veracity of that report since MLB’s contact-tracing guidelines aren’t entirely proactive and really only go into effect once a player has had confirmed close contact with someone who’s tested positive.
Interestingly enough, the Marlins are not the only professional athletes accused of recklessly indulging in Atlanta nightlife recently. Clippers guard and ATL native Lou Williams was granted permission to leave the NBA’s bubble to attend his grandfather’s funeral and was subsequently photographed at the famed Magic City strip club with rapper Jack Harlow.
— Ahmed??/Justice for Breonna & Elijah (@big_business_) July 24, 2020
Both men were wearing masks in the picture, which was quickly deleted from Harlow’s Instagram story, but the escapade earned Williams a 10-day quarantine rather than the standard four upon his return to bubble. Williams claims he was just at the shake joint for the famous chicken wings, which sounds like someone saying they read Playboy for the articles, but in this case he may not be joking.
Not only does Magic City apparently have great wings, the star hoopster has such an affinity for them that “LouWill Lemon Pepper BBQ” wings are a staple on the menu.
— Lou Williams (@TeamLou23) July 24, 2020
Anyway, back to baseball. It’s obvious the initial protocols were not strict enough to prevent an outbreak like the one wreaking havoc on schedules in the East divisions, though that’s sort of the point to an extent. As great as it would be to have locked everything down from the start, there are times when you have to let people make mistakes in order to see the value in restrictions. That’s not some Libertarian-adjacent dogma, it’s just a reality of human behavior.
The Cubs embraced an increased sense of social responsibility on their own, but a team like the Marlins probably didn’t have the same level of respect for the rules or each other. As much as anything, that’s more a matter of the team being a collection of misfit toys comprised of castoffs, aging vets looking for more playing time, and young guys who simply don’t know any better. They simply haven’t developed a sense of camaraderie or unity, or perhaps some of them either don’t believe in the “plandemic” and fancy themselves invincible.
Whatever the case, MLB had better hope there aren’t any more of these large-scale outbreaks over the rest of the season. It doesn’t matter how much you shorten doubleheaders, there’s no way to play enough of them if more teams end up losing literal weeks because over half their roster is quarantined. All you can really do at this point is hope everyone adheres to the new standards.
As an aside, is anyone else hungry for wings now?