WASHINGTON - Major League Baseball canceled three games scheduled for Monday and Tuesday after several players on the Miami Marlins tested positive for the coronavirus, raising questions about whether the season can be salvaged.
The Marlins were supposed to host the Baltimore Orioles for their first home game of the virus-shortened season.
But the game was postponed when as many as 11 Marlins and two coaches tested positive for COVID-19.
The players are quarantined in Philadelphia, where the Marlins played a weekend series against that city’s Phillies.
“The health of our players and staff has been and will continue to be our primary focus as we navigate through these unchartered waters," Marlins CEO Derek Jeter said. "After a successful spring … we have now experienced challenges once we went on the road and left Miami. Postponing tonight's home opener was the correct decision to ensure we take a collective pause and try to properly grasp the totality of this situation."
The Marlins have also postponed Tuesday’s scheduled contest against the Orioles.
The Philadelphia Phillies also canceled their Monday night game against the visiting New York Yankees after a number of Yankees said they don’t feel comfortable using a clubhouse occupied a day earlier by coronavirus patients.
Baseball has a long history of strange stories and oddities, and the 2020 season is likely to go down as the oddest ever.
The season opened last week was three months late because of the coronavirus and a dispute between team owners and players on when and how to start.
Instead of the usual 162-game season, the 30 teams will play 60 games. There is no All-Star game.
Fans are not allowed in the ballparks, so home runs and excellent fielding are greeted with prerecorded cheers. Some parks have propped up cut-out pictures of fans in the seats to make the games appear as normal as possible, even having public address announcers introduce the players to an empty park.
Teams will only play other teams from near-by cities to avoid travel.
Canada’s only Major League team, the Toronto Blue Jays, have been shut out of their home field because Canadian officials don’t want U.S. players continually crossing the border at the same time American tourists are being turned away.
The Blue Jays are playing their home games in Buffalo, New York, where they have a minor league team whose season has been canceled.
Some sports commentators and health experts are questioning the wisdom of baseball even attempting to carry out a 2020 season.
“Baseball is in huge trouble,” University of Toronto infectious disease expert Dr. Andrew Morris, said. “It makes me wonder if they are listening to the advice of experts or whether their experts are giving them good advice. This was not a plan anyone who knows what they are talking about would have conceived.”
Other professional North American sports leagues hope to restart their seasons shortly. The National Basketball Association and National Hockey League have opened training camps.
All basketball games are being played in Orlando, Florida, and the NHL will play its contests in two Canadian cities, Toronto and Edmonton. Canadian authorities have granted exceptions to U.S. players to allow them to cross the border.
The National Football League is opening training camps this week but has canceled the usual four exhibition games each team plays in August.
The NFL season is set to open September 10, but U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci has said because of the extremely close contact NFL players have to each other on the field, he wouldn’t be surprised to see a curtailed 2020 football season, too.