MLB Continues To Be Impacted By Covid-19

By Matt Noonan

For the second-straight day, Major League Baseball (MLB) is in the news. And it is not good news for those wondering.

According to various reports from earlier today, more members of the Miami Marlins have tested positive for the coronavirus (Covid-19) while their fifth contest of the 2020 season against the Baltimore Orioles has been postponed. The New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies will also not take the field this evening as their game was postponed, too.

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More members of the Miami Marlins have tested positive for the coronavirus (Covid-19) on Tuesday, July 28. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Miami began its 2020 campaign in Philadelphia and was initially scheduled to host the Orioles last night.

These postponements are not good news for the sport, which hoped to provide some sense of normalcy to many during this unprecedented time. But instead of feeling excited about baseball returning, there seem to be growing fears over if and how this season can continue as it is likely that other players, coaches, and team members will contract the virus over the next few days, weeks, and months.

Of course, we want everyone to stay safe and healthy – these are such scary times – but while other sports have been sent to resume or begin their respective seasons in a “bubble,” one might wonder why MLB did not do this. Yes, there was some talk of sending certain teams and divisions to various areas of the country months ago, but as of now a slew of states, including Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas are experiencing an uptick of coronavirus cases, which does not bode well for teams visiting these areas over the next few weeks and months.

One reporter tweeted an hour ago that it is “unlikely” Baltimore and Miami won’t play in Maryland on Wednesday and Thursday.

We also just learned a short time ago that players on the Washington Nationals have voted to not make the trek to Miami, Florida this weekend to face the Marlins. According to both Ken Rosenthal and Jeff Passan, the league will have the final say.

Should MLB Pause Or Stop The 2020 Season?

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Should Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Rob Manfred consider ending the 2020 season? (PHOTO COURTESY: Lynne Sladky/Associated Press)

By Matt Noonan

Rob Manfred might want to consider pressing the pause button or perhaps shutting down the 2020 Major League Baseball (MLB) season.

With today’s news of 14 members of the Miami Marlins testing positive for the coronavirus (Covid-19), perhaps this is a sign that maybe, just maybe, traveling to play baseball during a pandemic this summer is not something we should do.

The 2020 season – a short, 60-game sprint – began last week with some bad news when  Juan Soto, an outfielder for the Washington Nationals, tested positive prior to his team’s initial contest against the New York Yankees. Soto recently tested negative but needs an additional negative result before returning to the diamond.

Let’s hope Soto does test negative (again), so we can see him back on the field either later this week or next month.

But while we anxiously await word of Soto’s next test, it just seems likely that we will learn of more players, along with coaches and staff members that will test positive for the virus as the season progresses. The United State of America has recorded more than four million cases of Covid-19, while 1.3 million individuals have recovered

Baseball, unlike other sports that have restarted, is not playing in a “bubble,” so the chances of players, coaches, and staff members testing positive for the virus seems more likely from staying in hotels to traveling to various ballparks on planes and busses.

No matter what happens, Manfred, along with the owners, coaches, and players knew they were taking a risk with playing games during a pandemic, but is it worth the risk continuing to play with cases on the rise in various states across the country, including here in Massachusetts?

 

There Will Be Baseball In Massachusetts in July

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Baseball will be returning to Fenway Park in July without any fans. (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan 

For those craving some baseball in Massachusetts, you are in luck.

As of next month, fans of America’s pastime will be treated to a slew of local games, including some Boston Red Sox contests, which will begin at the end of July.

As of now, the 2020 Major League Baseball (MLB) season – a 60 game season, to be exact – will commence for some teams on Thursday, July 23 while others will begin their quest for a World Series crown on Friday, July 24.

In addition to the Red Sox, we learned earlier this week that the Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL) will play an abbreviated season, beginning Thursday, July 2. Four of the league’s six teams play home games in Massachusetts. 

The four FCBL teams – Brockton RoxNorth Shore NavigatorsWestfield Starfires, and Worcester Bravehearts – are currently scheduled to host a few games this summer with some fans in the stands. However, those current home dates could be canceled or pushed back due to the state’s ongoing reopening with the coronavirus. Games and scrimmages are not permitted in Massachusetts until the third phase, which is tentatively scheduled to begin Monday, July 6.

In addition to the Red Sox and FCBL, a few adult men’s leagues, including the Boston Men’s Baseball League (BMBL) and Intercity Baseball League (ICL) hope to begin one week after the start of the third phase. The BMBL hopes to start its season on Friday, July 12 while the ICL is planning to allow its nine-team league to begin to play one day later on Saturday, July 13.

Of course, plans for both leagues, along with others could be pushed back pending the state’s plan for allowing games and scrimmages to begin. Currently, the state’s second phase, which is what we are in now, only allows adult, amateur, and youth sports leagues to practice, not play games or scrimmages. And social distancing, along with good hygiene is certainly encouraged for all participants.

Gov. Baker Paves The Way For Pro Sports To Return To Massachusetts

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Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker provided a glimmer of hope for live sports to return in the coming weeks. (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan 

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker clearly misses sports – we all know he is a proud supporter of our state’s hometown teams.

So on Friday, Baker announced that the state’s professional teams would be allowed to begin practicing as soon as Saturday, June 6. That is also the same date Massachusetts residents should learn more about the second phase of the state’s reopening plan, which would begin Monday, June 8.

“I know we still aren’t to the point where we’ll have our pro sports teams back playing anything yet,” Baker said during Friday’s press briefing. “The leagues are obviously working hard to host games again. And I think we all hope that at some point, opening practice facilities will help make that happen a little sooner.”

Professional sports have been idle since mid-March when the National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL) paused their respective seasons due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Since then, both leagues have been working diligently to find a way to restart their seasons safely in “hub cities.”

Major League Baseball (MLB) delayed the start of its 2020 season but continues to be stuck in neutral due to ongoing contract discussions between the players and owners.

Both Major League Soccer (MLS) and the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) have announced plans to return to the pitch in the coming weeks, which should excited local New England Revolution fans.

Baker believes live sports would certainly help all of us during this unprecedented time. Additionally, it would be a great outlet for many, who have been consuming older contests these past few weeks, including a 2007 playoff run by the Boston Red Sox on NESN.

“I think for all of us live sports, and especially pro sports would be a great thing to see again because not only will it be a significant milestone for those of us who are fans but it will also send a big signal that we’ve continued to do all the things that we need to do to contain and control the virus,” said Baker.

Noontime Commentary: It Is Time To Pull The Plug On All Spring Sports

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Is it time to officially pull the plug on all spring sports, including high school games? (PHOTO COURTESY: Visualhunt.com)

By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation 

It may be time to pull the plug on spring sports, including all high school games, along with any other leagues or tournaments that were scheduled to start, both this month or over the next few weeks.

Sports will return – I know they will – but playing games to convening along the sidelines to cheer on our hometown student-athletes to storming the gates at Fenway Park just doesn’t seem like the right thing to do during this time of uncertainty. 

We are expecting a “surge” here in Massachusetts, which could have started yesterday or today – who knows? – and it will certainly challenge all of us, as well as our communities, hospitals, health professionals, and everyone else that has bravely stepped up to help combat the spread of COVID-19. And this so-called “surge” – may be the first of many to come? – is certainly a sign that future games and contests will either be canceled or postponed.

Games, which were scheduled for today and yesterday, have already been canceled. Professional leagues like the NBA and NHL are staying optimistic about finishing their respective seasons while the MLB is pondering the thought of playing games in both Arizona and Florida next month.

Meanwhile, there is a slew of college athletes sitting idle – sadly, they will not return to the ice, hardwood, track, baseball or softball diamonds, volleyball courts or lacrosse fields later this spring. Their respective seasons are caputs.

And then there are the high school student-athletes, who are eagerly awaiting an announcement from their state’s Governor to say schools will re-open and spring sports will happen. But sadly, I don’t think high school spring sports will occur, along with any professional or minor league events for quite some time.

The thought of watching our friends and neighbors compete in crowded gymnasiums or local parks just doesn’t seem like a logical plan to me, especially during a time where many, including myself, are seeking some signs of hope, as well as a light at the end of the tunnel. I am an optimist – I always look at the glass half full, not half empty – but from everything I have read, heard or discussed with friends and colleagues within the sports world makes me think (and believe) that games will not be played either next month or in early June. And the thought of games being canceled or postponed weeks from now – i.e. fall sports like football, soccer, field hockey, and others – is also a possibility.

We need to be patient. We need to adhere to the advice of our local (and national) medical workers and scientists. We need to listen to our local Governors, mayors, and town representatives, who are working hard to keep us safe and provide some sense of normalcy to all of us in the coming weeks and months.

Spring sports will return to our lives one day, along with future dinner plans at our favorite neighborhood restaurants to movies, picnics and so much more. But for now, I think it is best to pull the plug and play it safe.