In the light of the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins corona-virus issues, commissioner Rob Manfred is struggling with options. The league is still going strong despite serious issues revolving around the Marlins and Cardinals list of positive cases, but a decision will be needed. The league is not sustainable if there is a possibility of infections across entire organizations. While MLB has been lenient in their virus restrictions as far as traveling is concerned, more problems will certainly avail. A playoff bubble might work to stop the spread come October.
The Marlins and Cardinals Issue
The Miami Marlins fell into some trouble early in the season. Twenty-one cases of corona-virus were confirmed in the organization, with 18 of those being players. This type of outbreak was serious enough that MLB had to postpone games to adjust health protocols. Instead of implementing any type of solution, commissioner Manfred simply gave the MLBPA an ultimatum on the season: adjust protocol or shut down the season. The Cardinals fell into similar issues when they had nine players and seven staff members test positive for COVID-19, causing more delays and postponements.
Instead of making any major improvements to the safety protocol, Manfred asked for teams to be stricter in their team management to avoid further outbreaks. While this may work in the short term, there will almost inevitably be more outbreaks among teams. Manfred should seriously consider following the NBA and NHL trajectory with this issue.
The NBA has seen no new COVID cases among players in weeks following the strict implementation of the bubble. Implementing players to strict guidelines within an enclosed space has proven to be effective. MLB is too large to implement a bubble during the regular season. On the other hand, a playoff bubble could work. Determining two locations close to each other could ease transportation issues. Here are some possibilities:
Florida or Texas
Using Marlins Park and Tropicana Field could prove well. With 16 teams (464 players, including the taxi squad) and staff members divided up between two locations, the league could lower the chances of an outbreak. Players and staff would need strict guidelines to stay in the bubble, but only for a limited time. A hotel at each location (232 players each) would house the players, with the only travel being between each park and hotel. After each round, eliminated teams would go home, easing the cost and size of the bubble. A bubble between Globe Life Field and Minute Maid Park could use the same plan. Florida seems to be the better choice, given the size of hotels and the NBA’s success. Distance between Globe Life and Houston is the same as Marlins Park and The Trop (roughly 4 hours by bus).
A regular season bubble has already been ruled out. Baseball has too many players and staff members. A playoff bubble may work. Sixteen teams, all following strict guidelines, would prevent delays and postponements. A worst case scenario would be an outbreak in an organization during the playoffs. Rob Manfred must decide how the playoffs will work without a devastating outbreak.
Embed from Getty Images