It’s official: Game 3 of the 2018 World Series will go down in history as the longest postseason game to date. Following Jackie Bradley, Jr.’s game-tying home run in the eighth, the Dodgers and Red Sox battled through a scoreless ninth inning, then took the game all the way to the 17th to surpass the six-hour, 23-minute mark that was set in an 18-inning Game 2 of the 2014 NLDS.
Both teams had an opportunity to get ahead in the 13th. Scott Alexander issued a leadoff walk to Brock Holt in the top of the inning, then allowed a stolen base as Austin Barnes went scrambling after a pitch in the dirt. Eduardo Nuñez tried to get out of Barnes’ way, but was flipped onto his back and appeared to be injured as he stood to resume his at-bat. He grabbed onto a 1-0 slider and returned it to second base, where Alexander tossed it wide of first base and inadvertently allowed Holt to score the go-ahead run.
That is, it would have been the go-ahead run had it not been for Nuñez’s antics in the bottom of the inning. With Max Muncy standing on first, the third baseman chased after a foul pop-up and fell backwards into the stands. Muncy advanced to second, then came home to score as Yasiel Puig chopped a base hit up the middle and second baseman Ian Kinsler hurled it well past the bag. After some discussion over the legitimacy of the run scored — the Red Sox argued the ball was out of play after it ended up in the camera well — the initial call was upheld and the game was tied once more, 2-2.
Despite Muncy’s jaw-dropping fly ball that landed just foul of a walk-off home run, Game 3 is still tied 2-2 in the bottom of the 17th. And now there’s so much more at stake than the outcome of the World Series:
Won’t someone think of the Mets?
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.