Associated Press

Marlins decide to play via group text

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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?

Joe Kelly’s suspension reduced to 5 games on appeal

Joe Kelly suspended eight
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LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly had his suspension for throwing pitches near the heads of Houston hitters reduced to five games on appeal.

Kelly was originally penalized eight games by Major League Baseball on July 29, a day after throwing a 96 mph fastball near the head of Houston’s Alex Bregman and two curveballs that brushed back Carlos Correa.

The Dodgers on Wednesday confirmed the reduced penalty.

Kelly went on the 10-day injured list retroactive to last Sunday with right shoulder inflammation. He will serve his suspension when he returns.

After striking out Corea, Kelly curled his lip into a pouting expression and exchanged words with the shortstop.

Benches cleared after Kelly’s actions during the sixth inning of Los Angeles’ 5-2 win at Houston in the teams’ first meeting since it was revealed the Astros stole signs en route to a 2017 World Series title over the Dodgers.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts served his one-game suspension the same day the penalty was handed down. Astros manager Dusty Baker was fined an undisclosed amount.

Kelly denied that he purposely threw at the Astros. He has previously been suspended in his career for throwing at a batter.

The penalties were imposed by former pitcher Chris Young, MLB’s senior vice president of baseball operations, who issued his first ruling since taking over the job from Joe Torre.