Baseball is back and the celebratory Hope Springs Eternal pieces that we usually see twenty days before Opening Day have been replaced with stories of players opting out of the season or the disclosures of the players who've tested positive for Covid-19. Three teams, the Nationals, the Cardinals, and the Astros, cancelled team workouts today as they hadn't received results they'd administered Friday. A majority of teams had multiple positive results, although the player pools of positive tests is smaller than it has been in other sports. So what to make of it all?
First, let's remind ourselves that every positive case represents part of a transmission chain that was not stopped. So when you read Brewers beat writer Adam McCalvy describe Luis Urias's positive test as "another setback", just keep in mind that well over 500,000 people worldwide have died from this setback.
Also, what if this doesn't work? What if this disease is so contagious that this socially distanced sport becomes a hotbed? Is it out of the realm of possibility that the test numbers approach the national average of 9% positive rather than stay at the 1.2% original benchmark? What if a team, or multiple teams, have an outbreak and 6, 8. 10, or more players get it over the course of two weeks? Is there a number of positive tests that would cause Major League Baseball to say "this isn't worth it"? What if just one player dies from Covid-19?
More issues arise in that teams are totally and exclusively in control of what happens with players who have positive tests and the contact tracing involved with that process. Baseball is exceptionally dirty; are we to believe teams will not continue the trend of ignoring all moral, ethical, and health repercussions so long as it is in the best interest of the team to do so?
I'm desperate for baseball. I'm extremely excited for baseball to start. But that's selfish and short-sighted. Shut it down until we have an effective vaccine.