Not even a full week after Major League Baseball's long-delayed opening day, several games started getting postponed due to COVID-19 concerns. The first outbreak happened with the Miami Marlins, where over 19 positive cases were found among players and staff. After the first couple positive results came in, the Marlins players, shockingly, were allowed to determine for themselves if they should continue playing. And continue playing they did. This resulted in their opponents for that series, the Philadelphia Phillies, also postponing games while they quarantined and tested and tried to get in front of the situation.
On Friday, MLB suspended the St. Louis Cardinals-Milwaukee Brewers afternoon game due to multiple positive tests among the Cardinals, leaving six total teams not playing on Friday due to fallout from the virus. Baseball, officially, is on the edge of disaster.
On It's Always Sunny in Chiefs Kingdom this week, Austin and I were discussing baseball's COVID-19 issues and we wondered how it would impact the upcoming football season. While baseball is a major player in the sports world, with the money and resources to combat the coronavirus, there is no force in sports greater than the National Football League. Surely, with all of their money, with extra time to plan and prepare, and with the sports world's eyes always fixed on football, they can avoid a baseball-like catastrophe. ...Right?
Football has the advantage of having weekly games as opposed to daily games, which means one postponement can grant a team a week or two of not playing, unlike baseball, where every day matters in the schedule because they play so often. Football also has the advantage of watching this guinea pig baseball season and taking tons of notes on how not to handle the situation.
Football also has much more at stake in having a successful season, as the league's financial future is on the line in the form of the salary cap. Baseball's contracts are fully-guaranteed and aren't placing next year's teams in any jeopardy if the season doesn't finish. That type of backs-against-the-wall mentality should force the leadership of the National Football League to make as many smart and rational decisions as they are capable of.
Maybe baseball can win the fight. Maybe by showing teams that positive infections will risk everything, the players will be more vigilant in their precautions and the tide can be stemmed enough for the season to be completed as planned. Maybe there will be a scientific breakthrough that helps slow the spread of the virus. And maybe by the time the NFL kicks off in just under five weeks, they will have learned enough information about how to run a gigantic sports league in the middle of a pandemic that a full, regularly-scheduled 16-game season can actually happen.
For the sake of the six baseball teams not playing this weekend and the 32 NFL teams trying to play in five weeks, and for sports fans around the country, I sure hope so.