The Cardinals played some games this weekend against themselves. They did some drills. They modified the rules. The press box folks got to fancy themselves play-by-play guys, reiterating once and for all that we really need baseball on our screens instead of in text updates. Everything seemed hunky-dory and things seem to be speeding toward that Opening Day a week from Friday.
And yet, the virus still lurks.
Aroldis Chapman passed his intake screening, had been practicing with his teammates, and then came up with a positive COVID-19 test. Could it be that he was tested too early in the cycle and actually had the virus during the intake test but got back a false negative? Maybe. That’s less concerning than the idea that he was clean when he entered the system and somehow contracted it anyway.
As we said on Meet Me at Musial this week and Gateway to Baseball Heaven last (and probably again last night, but I’m writing this before Tara and I record), the positive tests on the intake screening weren’t really that concerning, at least not to this enterprise of having baseball. (Obviously, it was concerning to the individuals, even if they were asymptomatic.) Those players had been out “in the wild” and they weren’t all following the strictest of protocol. Once you get into the regulated environment, though, the tests loom larger because either someone isn’t following the rules or the restrictions aren’t enough. (Or there’s just no stopping this virus, which seems just as likely.) Also, there’s a larger chance that these sort of cases will lead to an outbreak, as they will have been interacting before they realized they had symptoms.
So far, it seems like Chapman didn’t actually spread the disease and he’ll just have to quarantine for a while, which may mean that the Yankees are without their closer to start the season.
It wasn’t just the Yankees, though. The Astros cancelled Saturday’s workout because a staff member was potentially exposed. It seems more and more that this containment isn’t quite as sealed and secure as baseball would like it to be, which poses some significant issues going forward.
The three Cardinals that are in quarantine–Genesis Cabrera, Ricardo Sanchez, and Elehuris Montero–have all had a negative COVID test since their quarantine. As they’ve not had a fever, all they are waiting on is one more negative test and they can take the field. It would seem likely we’ll see them on Tuesday or Wednesday, though no timetable has been set.
We want to put on the happy face and assume that games are going to start happening. It’s exciting to know that the Cardinals are going to start streaming the intrasquad games starting Tuesday. Let’s just not forget, though, the odds aren’t necessarily in baseball’s favor. Control always goes to the virus and so far, it hasn’t seemed necessarily willing to relinquish it.