Some ballparks put up metal detectors last year, but this year is the first year of Major League Baseball’s new rule requiring all parks to have them. And, on Opening Day, a predictable side effect:
The new procedure created confusion and long lines at the gates for hundreds of fans who were trying to get inside the venue in time to watch Masahiro Tanaka throw out the first pitch for the Yankees.
Unsurprisingly, many fans were not happy with the delays the metal detectors caused.
“Not good. It’s just out of control,” said Joe Marinaio, of Staten Island, N.Y., as he stood in a long line outside Gate 4. “There’s no organization. It’s just a free for all.”
Though Marinaio, 19, heard about the new security measures via Twitter, he said he didn’t expect to have to wait over an hour just to enter the stadium.
Over time people will get used to this and the lines will be shorter, one assumes. It always seems to happen that way.
But it’s still worth noting that metal detector at the ballpark are nothing more then security theater, with experts saying that they will do nothing to make people safer at ballparks and could, in fact, be counterproductive in this regard. In other news, I am aware of no security dangers inside ballparks — no widespread or systemic incidents of violence, terror or anything else — which made this new rule reasonable and necessary in the first place.
But this is 21st century America where even suggesting that it’s possible to go too far in the name of security is unthinkable. Where, if someone in a position of authority suggested we all dress up in ballet tutus and wear crash helmets 24/7, most people would say “well, security is a good thing, and if doing this saves one life . . .”
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Zach Buchanan report that the Diamondbacks are one of several teams that have used labs other than the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Utah to process COVID-19 testing. MLB has encountered delays with its testing, despite promising 24-hour turnaround time, so teams have tried other avenues — with the league’s endorsement — in order to get faster results.
The SMRTL had processed performance-enhancing drug screenings for MLB. The league converted it to process COVID-19 tests amid concerns that having a season and all of the testing that would be required throughout would take away testing resources from the general public. That some teams are utilizing labs other than the SMRTL suggests the league, indeed, is usurping those resources.
In prospect Seth Beer’s case, he tested positive for COVID-19. He needed to test negative twice consecutively to be cleared to return to play. Beer went to a third-party site in the Phoenix area. He received his second negative test and was cleared to return on July 9.
The Diamondbacks said that the labs they have used have assured them that they are not taking away tests from the public. That seems like a claim MLB and the D-Backs should demonstrably prove. Per Rosenthal and Buchahan, the D-Backs have gone to an outside lab about 20 times, which accounts for less than one percent of COVID-19 tests taken by players and staff. Still, those are 20 tests that could have been used by the general public. And if the D-Backs and a handful of other teams already are using outside labs, then the rest of the league likely already is or soon will be doing the same. In the end, there will be a lot more than 20 tests taken at outside labs by MLB players and staff. Considering that “Tier 1” players will be tested every other day throughout the season, the total of third-party tests taken — if things continue the way they are now — could easily reach into the thousands by the end of October.
We all want baseball back, but the players, coaches, and all other staff are no more important than cashiers, teachers, and delivery drivers, so they shouldn’t have more access to COVID-19 testing simply by virtue of being associated with Major League Baseball and all of its influence and financial muscle. It would be unethical for MLB to be cutting in line ahead of other people who need testing just as much as if not more than the players.