Giants the latest team to suspend workouts due to delayed COVID-19 tests

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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.

MLB crowds jump from ’21, still below pre-pandemic levels

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PHOENIX — Even with the homer heroics of sluggers like Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols, Major League Baseball wasn’t able to coax fans to ballparks at pre-pandemic levels this season, though attendance did jump substantially from the COVID-19 affected campaign in 2021.

The 30 MLB teams drew nearly 64.6 million fans for the regular season that ended Wednesday, which is up from the 45.3 million who attended games in 2021, according to baseball-reference.com. This year’s numbers are still down from the 68.5 million who attended games in 2019, which was the last season that wasn’t affected by the pandemic.

The 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers led baseball with 3.86 million fans flocking to Dodger Stadium for an average of 47,672 per contest. The Oakland Athletics – who lost 102 games, play in an aging stadium and are the constant subject of relocation rumors – finished last, drawing just 787,902 fans for an average of less than 10,000 per game.

The St. Louis Cardinals finished second, drawing 3.32 million fans. They were followed by the Yankees (3.14 million), defending World Series champion Braves (3.13 million) and Padres (2.99 million).

The Toronto Blue Jays saw the biggest jump in attendance, rising from 805,901 fans to about 2.65 million. They were followed by the Cardinals, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, and Mets, which all drew more than a million fans more than in 2021.

The Rangers and Reds were the only teams to draw fewer fans than in 2021.

Only the Rangers started the 2021 season at full capacity and all 30 teams weren’t at 100% until July. No fans were allowed to attend regular season games in 2020.

MLB attendance had been declining slowly for years – even before the pandemic – after hitting its high mark of 79.4 million in 2007. This year’s 64.6 million fans is the fewest in a non-COVID-19 season since the sport expanded to 30 teams in 1998.

The lost attendance has been balanced in some ways by higher viewership on the sport’s MLB.TV streaming service. Viewers watched 11.5 billion minutes of content in 2022, which was a record high and up nearly 10% from 2021.