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About one week into the return of Major League Baseball, COVID-19 appears to have thrown a curveball into plans for a safe season. After at least 19 people – players and coaches – within the Miami Marlins association tested positive for coronavirus, the team has suspended their season through at least the weekend.
“Given the current circumstances, MLB believes that it is most prudent to allow the Marlins time to focus on providing care for their players and planning their Baseball Operations for a resumption early next week,” Major League Baseball said in a statement.
Instead of putting all the players into quarantine together, like other professional sports leagues, the MLB opted to shorten the season from 162 games to 60 and changed some rules, including no fans, no spitting, equipment wiped down with anti-virals after every use. However, players are allowed to sleep at home with their families and travel to away games, staying at hotels on the road.
Compare baseball to the NBA’s return Thursday, with the league's strict protocols for the health and safety of their players and staff. The NBA created a bubble – basically, a quarantine pod for the entire league. Players from 22 teams are holed up at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. Except for emergencies, no one is allowed to leave.
The NBA commissioner says everyone is tested nightly and players are sequestered 10-12 hours a day. As of Wednesday, no one has tested positive for COVID-19. The National Hockey League and the WNBA have also adopted similar bubble measures.
The game goes on, for now. But it looks like the bubble may be the winner this season.