There’s been a lot of response to Jeff Snider’s excellent proposal of using retired numbers to honor current players. One response just came from an active player. One who, just last year, came face-to-face with just how odd it is for there to be so many retired numbers on the team for which he played. He’s Brandon McCarthy of the Dodgers, and he just came up with this bit of brilliance:
That’s a fantastic idea. One which, informally anyway, has been done a bit in the past. Steve Largent and Jerry Rice both wore 80 for the Seahawks, though there was a little hanky panky with that. Luis Aparicio let Omar Vizquel wear his number with the White Sox. You’d have to police this a bit so family members or retired players weren’t pressured into allowing the number to be used or to make sure that dork third generation relatives of famous baseball players weren’t using it to make a buck. But as long as it was a sincere and open gesture, it could be pretty cool.
Underscoring all of this in my mind is the notion that retirement has changed over the years. At least with people. My dad retired 12 years ago, but he has worked steadily since then, driving a school bus for a few years and doing handyman work. He says he’d get bored otherwise. Other people either don’t or can’t retire due to circumstance. Generally speaking, our active lives last longer now than they used to. Retirement has become a bit more flexible a concept than it used to be.
So, McCarthy’s idea would do the same thing for numbers. Keep ’em working after retirement. Reminding us of their continued vitality as opposed to putting them under glass.
I’m really warming up to the idea of changing the way we deal with numbers. This is kind of fun to think about.
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.