Major League Baseball (MLB) has suspended all Miami Marlins games for the rest of the week after at least 15 players and coaches reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus.
The team is in Philadelphia where the affected players are in quarantine. The Philadelphia Phillies, who hosted the Marlins earlier this week, will also be idle through Friday.
Some players with the New York Yankees, who were scheduled to play the Phillies this week, balked at using the same visitors' clubhouse in Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park that the Marlins had used.
MLB officials say they postponed the Yankees-Phillies games "out of an abundance of caution."
The source of the coronavirus outbreak among the Marlins is unclear. But reports say some players may have picked up the virus during a night out in Atlanta following a July 22 exhibition game against that city’s team. There are no reported cases among Atlanta’s team.
The Marlins were scheduled to host the Washington Nationals in Miami this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. But Nationals manager Dave Martinez said the team’s players voted not to go.
“We all decided that it was probably unsafe to go there,” Marinez said. “It had nothing to do with the Miami Marlins. It was all about Miami and the state of Florida, this pandemic. They didn’t feel safe.”
MLB is trying to have as normal a season as possible during the coronavirus pandemic. But the usual 162 games were slashed to just 60 and, to avoid a lot of traveling, no teams in the West will play teams in the East.
Games are also off-limits to fans. Players have been hitting home runs into empty stands.
As of now, there are no plans to give up on the entire 2020 season. But the country’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told ABC television network’s “Good Morning America” Tuesday that the situation with the Marlins could “put it in danger.”
"I don’t believe they need to stop, but we just need to follow this and see what happens with other teams on a day-by-day basis. Major League Baseball — the players, the owners, the managers — have put a lot of effort into getting together and putting protocols that we feel would work,” Fauci said.
Left fielder Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers said Tuesday it has been “very difficult to focus on baseball at all the last couple of days.”
“It’s important that we are able to provide a source of entertainment and an outlet for people who are dealing with such a challenging time in their lives," Braun said. "But at the same time, the health and safety should be the top priority for all of us at all times. You think about all the hotel employees, bus drivers, pilots, flight attendants, anybody else all the Marlins guys might have come into contact with, and it’s obviously scary.”
Meanwhile, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo offered the ballparks in his state to any team that needs a place to play.
The governor said Tuesday that New York now has one of the country’s lowest rates of CIOVID-19 infections, adding that a successful baseball season would be “good for the economy. I think it would be good for the psyche. I think it would be good for the nation’s soul.”
New York City has two major league parks, and other cities across the state have well-equipped minor league parks.
The Toronto Blue Jays are already playing their 2020 home games at the minor league stadium in Buffalo, New York after Canadian authorities shut them out of their home field. Canadian officials said they do not want U.S. players continually crossing the border while U.S. tourists are being turned away.
Other professional North American sports leagues hope to restart their seasons shortly. The National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League (NHL) have opened training camps.
All basketball games are being played in Orlando, Florida, and NHL games will be played 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 (NFL) is opening training camps this week but has canceled the usual four exhibition games each team plays in August.
The football season is set to open Sept. 10. But Fauci has said because of the extremely close contact that NFL players have to each other on the field, he would not be surprised to also see a curtailed 2020 football season.