Marlins' Game vs. Orioles Postponed amid Reported COVID-19 Outbreak Within Team

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJuly 27, 2020

A foul ball that was hit into the stands sits on the ground of an empty stadium during the eight inning of a baseball game between the Miami Marlins and the Philadelphia Phillies, Sunday, July 26, 2020, in Philadelphia. The Marlins won 11-6. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Chris Szagola/Associated Press

Less than a week into the 2020 MLB season, a COVID-19 outbreak among Miami Marlins players and staff has resulted in the postponement of their home opener against the Baltimore Orioles.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic shared the statement from Major League Baseball confirming the decision, along with the postponement of the New York Yankees' game against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal

Statement from MLB https://t.co/nP1xvOe8hU

Jeff Passan and Jesse Rogers of ESPN first reported eight more players and two coaches have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the team's total to at least 14.

The team remains in Philadelphia, where it will undergo further testing. Players and coaches who tested positive will be placed into quarantine until they have two negative tests at least 24 hours apart.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke on the matter on ESPN on Monday night. Manfred said the two Orioles-Marlins games scheduled to be played in Miami on Monday and Tuesday would not be played. If the Marlins produce "acceptable" test results, they will return to action in Baltimore on Wednesday.

Manfred did not say whether Monday and Tuesday's postponed games would be rescheduled to be played in Baltimore, only saying that the Marlins and Orioles would play "at least two" games in Baltimore this week—pending test results.

Marlins CEO Derek Jeter later released a statement about the postponement:

Miami Marlins @Marlins


Passan later reported the Orioles are returning to Baltimore on Monday night "ensuring Tuesday's game won't be played at Marlins Park, either." Passan added "at some point" the Marlins are expected to travel to Baltimore for games that are currently scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.

According to Jayson Stark and Rosenthal of The Athletic: "There are no specific standards within the health and safety protocols that trigger the shutdown of a team or all teams. That decision is solely in the hands of commissioner Rob Manfred."

The commissioner has the power to suspend or cancel the 2020 season should an outbreak create a disruption in competitive balance.

Matt Gelb of The Athletic reported the Phillies are quarantining their visiting clubhouse staff. The Yankees traveled with their own clubhouse staff for the scheduled series.

Jon Heyman @JonHeyman

Discussions about whether to play Yankees-Phillies game are ongoing. Not canceled yet but seems like strong chance it will be. Phillies players aren’t reporting symptoms but they are awaiting test results (as of now they’ve had no positives since some on intake)

While the swiftness of the outbreak may come as a surprise, MLB's plan for the 2020 season always carried significant risks. By allowing players to travel by air, stay in hotels and interact with the general public—to essentially move forward as if this were a normal season—MLB was all but guaranteeing several employees would test positive throughout the year.

The Marlins' outbreak provides a stark contrast to what is being done by the NBA, which has seen zero positive tests among players since sequestering them in a "bubble" in Orlando, Florida.

MLB's rapid descent from Opening Day joy to fear of an outbreak that forces the season's cancellation may provide an example for the NFL, which is also planning its 2020 season without a so-called bubble.