Rob Manfred said MLB could shut down due to coronavirus outbreaks?
Commissioner Rob Manfred told MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark on Friday that the league could shut the season down if teams, players and other personnel don’t improve their handling of the coronavirus, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
The Miami Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies, who opened the season versus each other last weekend, haven’t played since Sunday after the Marlins experienced a virus outbreak that resulted in at least 18 players testing positive for COVID-19. Cancellations caused by that outbreak affected other clubs and resulted in schedule alterations.
Friday’s game between the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers was called off after the Cardinals returned at least two positive test results.
Passan added that some players briefed on the situation believe the “season could be shut down as soon as Monday if positive tests jump or if players continue not to strictly abide by the league’s protocols.”
MLB has repeatedly warned players and coaches about following health and safety protocols, such as avoiding unnecessary physical contact while at ballparks. Earlier this week, Bob Nightengale of USA Today suggested the Marlins outbreak occurred after an unknown number of Miami players broke MLB guidelines and strayed from the team hotel following an exhibition game versus the Atlanta Braves.
While leagues such as the NBA, NHL, Major League Soccer, and National Women’s Soccer League housed personnel inside isolated “bubble” sites for return-to-play formats, MLB teams are traveling for in-market games played behind closed doors and without fans.
That decision, and how players have reacted since going on the road, could result in the suspension or cancellation of the season less than two weeks after Opening Day.