The Miami Marlins are the biggest MLB story for all the wrong reasons, and that’s reason enough to stop the season.
With five percent of the MLB season in the books, the rebuilding Miami Marlins are in first place in the NL East and have a chance to pad their lead this week thanks to four games against the woeful Baltimore Orioles.
In a perfect world, that is what the biggest story surrounding the Miami Marlins would be right now. Because all of that was true Sunday night. Because in a season this short, even the first three games of it are greatly magnified in importance. It was entirely plausible that the Marlins were going to head into their home series against the Nationals next weekend with a chance to play their most significant games since August of 2017.
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However, the world is not perfect, and as a result billionaire owners have decided to ask their players to play a game in a pandemic, apparently trusting in their exceptional physical strength, peak fitness, and access to the finest medical care to protect them from any harm. As a result, the performance of the Miami Marlins is only being discussed in terms of when they will next be permitted to perform at all.
The argument to play wasn’t even an unreasonable one, initially. If anyone could pull off keeping large groups of people safe from Covid-19 while doing an activity as high risk as a team sport, followed by an activity of dramatically greater risk like using an airport, and doing both of these high activities on the regular for months, it would have to be an organization with the resources of MLB, right? A multi-billion dollar industry, whose charges are some of the healthiest and strongest adults amongst us, all of whom have a six-figure or greater financial incentive not to be reckless and stupid?
Unfortunately, that was then. This is now, and the now has shown that despite all those resources MLB and the Miami Marlins possessed, an outbreak can still happen. The Marlins did not play yesterday. They won’t play today. And if they do play tomorrow, both in terms of roster construction and emotional strain, it will be under circumstances no one should reasonably expect them to compete under.
That’s the key word though with this Miami Marlins franchise: compete. Relinking would only reward, but Twitter trolls have been out in force as this story has unfolded. Clamoring for the MLB season to go on because, really, it’s not like the Marlins were going to compete anyway. One wonders about whether a halt would have transpired already if the Cubs or the Dodgers were the team being asked to play for two weeks with a minor league roster. The Marlins, after all, have played with a minor league roster for years, right?
Earlier this weekend, in what seems like an eternity ago, I wrote about the history concerning the past several Opening Days for the Miami Marlins. How it has been years since they did something as simple as start a season 1-0. How much early winning and optimism means to the Marlins, and organizations like them.
Playing in a pandemic robs the Marlins and their fans of being able to focus on what they should be focusing on. The occurrence of this outbreak this early would seemingly portend that in short order, that will be true of another MLB franchise as well. Eventually, of other franchises in other sports. That’s not right, not fair, and most importantly, not safe.
Maybe it comes out in the next few days that this IS on the Miami Marlins shoulders. Some late-night unsanctioned party. That a few players went on a cheesesteak run. Something out of pocket, that brought this on themselves. Until then though, the Marlins should get the benefit of the doubt. That it wasn’t error on their part, but something about the process of multiple airports and hotels that caused this to occur. Something that will keep happening, every day, to every team.
Which means that the moral of the Miami Marlins story, if it can’t be one about a promising rebuild starting to bear fruit, needs to be about how MLB games should not be played at all.