The San Francisco Giants have suspended today’s workouts due to delayed COVID-19 tests.
Earlier today the Cubs did the same thing. So too did the Cardinals. Yesterday the Athletics, Nationals and Angels had to. The Yankees had workouts but had to administer their own saliva tests due to testers not showing up. There have likely been other delayed COVID-19 tests, but given that Rob Manfred has taken to casting team executives who speak out about it as “insubordinate,” we’re likely hearing less about it than we otherwise might.
Yesterday Major League Baseball’s excuse for delayed COVID-19 tests was that it could not handle the large number of intake tests and that the holiday weekend created difficulties. They said that these problems were “unforeseen” and would not recur. Today’s test delays are not intake tests and should not have been affected by the holiday yet they’re still not coming through. And, given that MLB is now, apparently, looking for more testing capacity, one strongly suspects that MLB itself does not believe it can handle the necessary testing load. Otherwise, there would’ve been a plan for multiple testing labs going in.
I presume baseball’s response to this will be something along the lines of “this is difficult” or “we are in uncharted waters” or “we always knew there would be missteps.” Well, yes, that’s true. But it’s also the case that the entire plan for the 2020 season was premised on frequent testing with test results being turned around quickly so as to limit the chances of players spreading infection. That’s what they wrote down in their famously thick book of health and safety protocols. Writing it down was one things. Actually executing such an ambitious and resource-intensive plan is another thing altogether.
Either way, that battle plan has not survived contact with the enemy. And as this battle wears on, it’s becoming increasingly clear that MLB’s testing protocols are a failure out of the gate.