Just as the owners and players came together on an agreement to finally start playing baseball this season, there was something bigger lurking in the background – science. The recent spike in positive COVID-19 tests around Major League Baseball has been enough to scare those around the game.
Numerous members of the Texas Rangers employees tested positive for the coronavirus, which left a lot of people around the organization “terrified for their safety.” If MLB thinks this will be a smooth and easy transition of getting back to normal, it has another thing coming.
COVID-19 is rising in 15 of the 27 U.S. markets that have MLB teams, with huge surges in the Houston and Phoenix areas. Not only does the surge worry those around baseball, but now medical experts fear they might have to step in if things continue to move in a worse direction.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott just reimposed limits on businesses that were allowed to open last month. Abbott is being much more cautious, unlike other hotspot areas like Arizona and Florida, where they are pushing to move forward as initially intended.
Dr. David Persse, a member of Houston’s public health authority, told ESPN that he wouldn’t be shy with his opinion if he thinks it’s too dangerous for baseball to resume play.
“If the public’s health is threatened, I will take a stand,” Persse said. “From an operational standpoint, I find myself in the position where I’m going to have to be the one, that if I think it’s going in the wrong direction, to make a stand.”
According to the Texas Medical Center, the rate of positive coronavirus tests for the Houston area – at three percent this month – rose to 14 percent this week. The medical center, housing around 70 percent of the beds in the metro area, reported its usual total of 1,330 beds was full.
“That kind of tells you that the virus is spreading rapidly,” Persse said. “I want us all to do the right thing and for the right reasons, and I’m trying to be realistic about it.”
In Arizona, home of the Diamondbacks, Governor Doug Ducey has the authority to restrict sports and any other kind of activity that could be a danger to the people. As of Friday, however, he has not made a motion to cancel anything. In fact, Ducey and his staff don’t have any plans to review any of the reopening plans.
MLB did release a statement to ESPN on Friday, saying:
“For us, this means that, at a minimum, we will play in a particular location only when we have approval from all relevant governmental authorities,” the statement read. “To date, all governmental authorities have been favorably inclined to allow play, at least in empty stadiums, based on our extensive protocols.
“This situation may change as developments with respect to the virus occur. If and when that happens, we will make adjustments to comply with any change in governmental policy.
“Independent of any governmental regulation, MLB will continually monitor the developing course of the pandemic with our experts. We will consult with the Players Association and will make operational decisions with the safety of our players and staff as the foremost consideration.”
It is certainly a scary sight to see all of these people around baseball have more and more positive tests. There have even been a few players that have tested positive during this whole pandemic.
Although the risk was always there to start back up, it will truly be another gut-punch to the start of baseball if they have to stop playing once again.