Major League Baseball and COVID-19: Timeline of a Difficult Recovery | Coronavirus


June 24, players and owners agree to present a 60-game schedule and a 12-team playoff format leading to the crowning of World Series champions.

Contrary to what has been implemented in the MLS, the NBA and the NHL, the concept of bubble city is shunned by the MLB which chooses instead to present its games behind closed doors in the stadiums of its teams.

With the trips that this would generate, July 18, Canadian public health bans the Toronto Blue Jays from playing their home games at Rogers Center.

The only Canadian team on the circuit finally makes their home in Buffalo, where they will not be able to play a first meeting before the August 11.

July 10, three days after the opening of the camps, there are 58 players and 8 staff members of the teams suffering from COVID-19.

A masked man throws a baseball.

Anthony Fauci takes a ceremonial throw.

Photo: Getty Images / Rob Carr

Short first chapter

July 23, the season officially opens in Washington, where the defending Nationals host the New York Yankees. Dr Anthony Fauci, renowned immunologist and director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, performs the first ceremonial throw there.

In the morning, Nationals outfielder Juan Soto learns he has contracted COVID-19, after being tested two days earlier. He was immediately put aside.

July 24, the Atlanta Braves’ two main receivers, Tyler Flowers and Travis d’Arnaud, are showing symptoms akin to COVID-19. They are not available for the opening game against the New York Mets. The tests carried out that same day are negative.

For the Cincinnati Reds, third baseman Matt Davidson faces the Detroit Tigers. He doesn’t know that the test he just had will turn out positive.

July 26, two teammates of Davidson, Mike Moustakas and Nick Senzel, say they are not feeling well. It is not known if they were infected. They returned to the game at the beginning of August.

It was also that day, in Philadelphia, that the Miami Marlins discovered that four of their own, including pitcher José Urena, had COVID-19.

They played the day before against the Phillies before they could see the results of tests carried out two days earlier.

The Marlins are delaying their flight back to Miami for their players to be tested again.

Baseball players congratulate each other after a victory.

The Miami Marlins congratulate each other after a win in Philadelphia on July 24.

Photo: Getty Images / Mitchell Leff

July 27, we learn that there are 13 cases within the Marlins. Immediately, the series which was to oppose the Floridians to the Baltimore Orioles is postponed.

At the same time, the Phillies must test all of their staff. The series that was to oppose them to the New York Yankees is also postponed.

July 28, the Washington Nationals players vote and vote against the idea of ​​going to Miami to face the Marlins.

While a players vote doesn’t affect the decision-making power of Major League Baseball, it still sends a clear signal that they don’t feel safe.

Hours later, the Marlins announce four more cases. Major League Baseball responded by imposing a forced break of at least a week on the team.

July 30, the Phillies’ home, Citizens Bank Park, is closed. The three-game series for the Toronto Blue Jays is postponed.

Phillies management announces that while none of its players have been infected with COVID-19, two members of the organization have been.

With the multiplication of postponements, Major League Baseball, in agreement with the Players’ Association, decrees the holding of double programs, and each game will be shortened to seven innings.

A man in a suit at a press conference

Rob Manfred, Commissioner of Major League Baseball

Photo: The Canadian Press / Mary Altaffer

July 31, Commissioner Rob Manfred fears that in the absence of a tightening of health measures the 2020 season is in danger, if new outbreaks within the teams.

The day before, the Cardinals said two cases were discovered among their employees. However, these are not players. The two infected people still flew with the team to Milwaukee for games against the Brewers.

August 1st, the commissioner changes his tune and says he still believes that the 2020 season can be completed.

He adds that if some teams may not play all of their 60 games, then playoff participation would be based on winning percentage.

Players have had enough

In the first 11 days of the shortened season, 19 games were postponed. Two players then decide that they have had enough.

Before facing the Cards for the Brewers’ home opener, outfielder Lorenzo Cain chooses to forgo the season. Its managing director, David Stearns, supports its decision.

Earlier today, Marlins second baseman Isan Diaz also returned home. The multiple tests he had undergone were all negative. He had played in two of the team’s first three games before the forced break.

August 2New York Mets power hitter Yoenis Cespedes is packing up. He does not show up at the stadium for the duel against the Atlanta Braves.

August 3Major League Baseball announces that no new cases of infection have been detected among the Phillies in the past week.

The team gets the green light to resume its schedule and immediately heads to New York for a two-game series against the Yankees.

The day ends, however, on another false note. The MLB reveals the appearance of 13 cases (7 players and 6 employees) among the Cardinals. The four-game series that was to open the next day in Detroit between the Cards and the Tigers is canceled.

Six of the seven players infected with Cards agree to be identified, we learn August 4. All-star receiver Yadier Molina is one of them.

A tight protocol

August 5, major baseball executives decide to tighten health rules to limit the spread of the coronavirus, the Associated Press reports.

The stricter instructions are accompanied by fines and possible exclusions for the rest of the season and the playoffs in the event of a repeat offense.

Thus, players in shelters, coaches and referees must wear the mask at all times. The referees could benefit from an accommodation in the event that the mask makes their work impossible.

Players should avoid hand-to-hand contact. Sputum still observed until then will also be punished.

Baseball players congratulate each other.

These gestures will no longer be tolerated in the hope of stopping the spread.

Photo: AP / Chris Szagola

Outside the field, wearing a mask (surgical model N95) will be compulsory for all on buses, planes and at the hotel.

At the hotel, the teams must also make a large room available to the players, where they can obtain food and other services. The space should be large enough to allow physical distancing. Players will need to avoid talking to each other or sitting across from each other while their masks are lowered to eat.

If a player wants to leave the hotel, he must first obtain authorization from the person responsible for respecting the protocol in his team.

In transport, alternation between empty rows and those occupied by players and staff must be applied. It is also now forbidden for anyone to change seats during a trip.

Finally, while a team is playing at home, its players cannot frequent bars, restaurants, shopping malls or any other place likely to create gatherings.

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