With two major sports set to begin the ramifications are being seen.
While not entirely surprising, it was the rapid and widespread reporting of positive cases that has the sportsworld tempted to stroke chins in contemplation except for the desire not to touch their faces. As Major League Baseball has started a truncated new season just days ago a report comes out today that the Miami Marlins have had a dozen players and some additional staff testing positive for the coronavirus. The team’s scheduled home opener that was set for today is postponed, as the team will remain in Philadelphia.
Nearly half of the Marlins roster is affected, with four starters out of the lineup on Sunday and eight additional players now listed as positive, as well as two coaches. Though in Pennsylvania factoring in the incubation period the likelihood of a Miami contraction — a city considered a hotspot — is apparent. How the team handles the issue and how it affects things is being watched closely by other sports.
— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) July 27, 2020
This coming Saturday both the NHL and the NBA are set to rejoin their suspended schedules, and days later the NFL is due to begin spring training camps. The NHL will begin an expanded playoff format with 5-game qualifying series that will then lead into the standard Stanley Cup format. Slightly different is the NBA, which will have a preliminary round that is an extension of the regular season in order to seed its playoff format.
One difference from baseball is both leagues will be playing in what are called hub cities. This is done to limit travel and, by extension, exposure. The NHL is staging its schedule with 12 teams playing in both Toronto, and in Edmonton. The NBA has created what it has dubbed its ‘’bubble’’ in Orlando. The hockey league has come forward to say by July 25 it has performed over 4,200 tests on over 800 players and they show zero positive results.
This does not mean that the news of the Marlins is not being watched closely. If one team encounters an outbreak this is just half as large that would still impact over one quarter of the rosters, during high-stakes playoff formats. Even though positive tests do not automatically mean grave results, the loss of gameplay or the delay in scheduling if the league deems that needed becomes significant.
For baseball the questions are growing. An already truncated schedule of 60 games is now in question, if the Marlins prove to be just the first example. The team had a three game series in Philadelphia this weekend and already the season is put on PAUSE. For now the team will suspend its immediate schedule, and there are effects elsewhere in the league. Their next opponent was set to be the Baltimore Orioles but the series has been suspended, as has the matchup between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Yankees, delayed for the time being out of caution.
Decisions will be made in the coming days on whether the Marlins will travel to Baltimore later in the week for the back half of the home/away series, or return to Miami and continue its schedule on the weekend. Should the team prove to be an isolated incidence then a calm exhale will be realized. However if a number of teams go through a similar grappling with an outbreak it will be something to be considered across a number of professional sports leagues.