As MLB owners and the MLBPA continue to bicker about the finances of baseball during the midst of a pandemic, it has become somewhat overlooked that the phrase in the midst of a pandemic was used in that very sentence. Despite states choosing to reopen almost everything after two full months on lockdown, the numbers and spread of COVID-19 continue to ramp back up, with the state of Florida being one of the very hot spots in this country.
The virus knows no friends, either. Today, we learned from Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia that no fewer than eight people - including five Philadelphia Phillies players - have tested positive for the virus, with multiple other positive confirmations expected as the test results roll in.
BREAKING: Coronavirus outbreak at Phillies camp -- 8 positive tests. Story herehttps://t.co/YhBRXdgksX— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyNBCS) June 19, 2020
Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Scott Lauber later added that the virus has spread to family members of those positive tests, meaning the extent of this outbreak is growing significantly at the moment.
Before I could put fingers to keyboard on that news, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that a player in the Toronto Blue Jays system was also showing symptoms of the virus at their team facility just a ways away from the Phillies complex in Clearwater, Florida, and that Toronto opted to close down their complex as a result.
The Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday shut down their spring training facility in Dunedin, Fla., after a player exhibited COVID-19 symptoms, sources tell ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 19, 2020
Dunedin is just up the road from Clearwater, where eight people in the Philadelphia Phillies organization tested positive.
As if that weren’t alarming enough, it appears MLB is not the only sport facing these alarming issues in Florida at the moment. TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported earlier Friday that one NHL team had also chosen to close their practive facility due to an outbreak of the virus.
It’s my understanding one NHL club has had to temporarily close its training facilities during Phase Two because multiple players and some staff have tested positive for Covid-19.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 19, 2020
That club turned out to be the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The magnitude of these developments is hard to underestimated. With Major League Baseball already on the skids due to the owners and union being wholly unable to decide where the money goes should a season actually begin, how to juggle these inevitable outbreaks seemingly took a backseat in the talks. Now, it seems they’ll again need to be considered first and foremost in any negotiations, further pushing the timeline of any season that much further down the road.
If there’s a season at all at this point, which certainly seems much less likely as the vulnerability of these protocols has very obviously shown itself already.