The Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting that the decision to play yesterday’s Marlins-Phillies game was made not by the team’s leadership, not by Major League Baseball, and not by any public health or medical experts. It was made by the players.
Over group text:
Major League Baseball issued a 113-page operations manual to all club employees before the start of the season. It outlines everything from on-field rules to testing procedures and what happens if a player tests positive. But Sunday afternoon, the status of the game amid a coronavirus outbreak was decided by a group text-message between Marlins players.
According to the story the final call was mostly made by shortstop Miguel Rojas, who is the team’s clubhouse leader. Rojas told the Inquirer, “we made the decision that we’re going to continue to do this and we’re going to continue to be responsible and just play the game as hard as we can.”
That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works. Or at least it’s not how it should work.
As the Inquirer story notes, Major League Baseball’s painfully detailed COVID-19 protocols are supposed to dictate everything. But they did not, apparently, dictate any sort of isolating despite the fact the team was in close quarters for several days leading up to the multiple positive tests that emerged yesterday morning. And the decision to play was made not by any health experts or anyone in any sort of formal leadership position, but by players whose driving philosophy in all of this was “we play hard.” Which is exactly the sort of impulse that having clear, organized, medical and science-driven processes is supposed to push back against. Athletes will ALWAYS want to play hard if they’re able to and allowed to. During a pandemic that Major League Baseball purports to take seriously, structures should be in place that head off that emotional impulse in favor of a rational one.
Either Major League Baseball’s health and safety protocols have no data-driven mechanisms via which games are postponed and no formal hierarchy that makes such determinations, or else it has them but they were allowed to be ignored in this instance. It has to be one or the other because “Miguel Rojas decides via group text” is probably not in the manual.
Which is it? Did the league fail to plan for this eventuality or did it ignore its plans?