Cubs Proud of Adherence to COVID Protocols, Still Not Blind to Reality

As it turns out, the rumors about Marlins players enjoying themselves a little too freely in Atlanta may indeed be to blame for the outbreak that has now reached a total of 21 of their on-field personnel. The other 29 teams combined have registered eight total positives over the last week: two MLB players, one alternate site player, and five staff members. That’s out of 11,895 tests, so the total positive rate was 0.2% according to the numbers MLB released Friday.

Those numbers would have been a little higher had they come out a day later, as multiple reports now have the Cardinals with several additional positive cases in addition to the two reported Friday. A little internet sleuthing will dig up several rumors or theories online, but since it’s the Cardinals I can only assume they contracted COVID the right way. Either that or some irresponsible individuals got it and then passed it to others when they were all flying to Milwaukee breathing the same recycled air inside a sealed metal tube.

According to Bleacher Report’s Scott Miller, an internal league investigation found the Marlins “were very lapse [sic] in following protocols during Atlanta trip last weekend,” with players going out on the town and congregating in the hotel bar. They may not have had their pictures taken with rappers while eating strip club wings like the Clippers’ Lou Williams, but it’s probably safe to say they also were wearing a mask like Williams was in said picture.

Six teams were out of action Friday, four of which came as a direct result of the Marlins’ inability to follow the most basic safety measures, so it’s understandable that a lot of people around the league are pissed off. If the Cardinals’ situation is as bad as it seems, they could prompt a similar domino effect in the Central. Even if we set aside the bigger health implications here, the very basic scheduling logistics could quickly become insurmountably complicated.

Commissioner Rob Manfred presented that possibility when he told MLBPA executive director Tony Clark that the league might have to shut down if teams can’t better adhere to safety protocols. Far from an ultimatum, he was making a very basic statement of fact when it comes to being able to pull off a season. It’s also possible that Manfred meant they’d shut down for two weeks to clear the cases, then resume in order to maintain the potential for all that postseason broadcast revenue.

Word naturally cascaded to players that it’s their responsibility to tighten things up, since you can’t have a season if entire weeks of it are being postponed for several teams. The Cubs, who have had no positive tests among players since the process started in late June, addressed the matter prior to Friday’s series opener with the Pirates.

“I don’t know that I have an objection to pinning things on the players,” David Ross told the media. “I have an objection to pinning things on my players, who haven’t done anything.”

It’s understandable that Ross would be a little salty about the notion that players and teams need to do better, since his players have been doing just that from the jump. They’re like the kids in a classroom minding their own business and still getting punished because some other hooligans are engaged in tomfoolery. Or like Michael Bolton in Office Space.

“The guys here in our clubhouse know the importance of sticking together and being as prudent as possible away from the field and at the field,” Anthony Rizzo said, per Patrick Mooney. “It’s a little nerve-wracking. We say the most normal think about the day is when we actually play baseball.”

It was evident from the start of summer camp that the Cubs were taking this all very seriously, which is to be expected from a team of veterans that has been playing together for so long. Not only have they become a baseball family, but most of them now have actual families of their own to watch out for. Even so, they’re fully aware that there’s no such thing as perfection and that getting cocky about staying safe is a bad idea.

“You got to have faith. You can’t really live in fear of it, but guys are gonna get it. We can’t sit here and say, ‘Oh, look at us, we’re doing so great.’ Because tomorrow we could have someone walking around here asymptomatic and spread it to 10 guys.”

Again, this is where players just being prudent and using good judgment is paramount. In the Cubs’ case specifically, and for the North Side in general, it can’t hurt that notorious River North watering hole Bottled Blonde recently closed its doors for good. Even better, the Cubs had already cut ties with one of the bro-rific bar’s more famous patrons, a young man known for poor decision-making on many levels.

All it takes is one night out, whether it’s to a gentlemen’s club or the hotel lobby bar, to wreck the entire season at this point. You’d think that wouldn’t be too difficult to ask of a bunch of adults, but I mean, look around our country right now and see how many fools are openly flouting both science and common sense. Add in a lot of money and a bunch of dudes who’ve never heard “no” in their lives and you can see how problems might arise.

Of course, MLB should have put forth more stringent regulations on players’ social agendas when the safety protocols were first announced. Trusting any large group of humans to do the right thing in the interest of others is just asking for trouble. You want to be free to party and get a lap dance? Fine, you’ll just have to opt out of the season to do it. It doesn’t seem like it should be too difficult to figure this out, but I’m an old man whose general misanthropy makes it very easy to avoid people.

Seriously, though, how hard is it to just care a little bit for people other than yourself? While the world might not revolve around you, it’s entirely possible the health and livelihood of your friends and neighbors does. So please, MLB, try to be more like the Cubs and a helluva lot less like the Marlins.

And just in case some jackass reply guy makes it this far, yes, I’m aware that the Marlins have two World Series titles.

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