There is this thing called credibility. And there is this other thing called competence. You can concoct circumstances wherein someone or something is competent but still not credible. It is far less likely that a lack of competence would yield an aura of credibility. And this morning we have an example of that last situation. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you:
- Major League Baseball.
Spring Training shut down on March 12, 2020 because of COVID-19. Given that MLB always had the intention of re-constituting its teams for a delayed start to the 2020 season, it is fair and reasonable to suggest that they had 110 days between March 12 and July 1 to avoid the utter incompetence that was on display as of yesterday. Lots of MLB players were born and raised in the Dominican Republic; given the lack of a baseball season, it is not mind-bending to realize that some of them went back to the D.R. to await whatever restart was going to happen.
MLB and the MLBPA frittered away most of those 110 days fighting over money; forget heaping blame on either side for that nonsense; that is what management and unions do. However, do not forgive MLB in particular – and the union to a lesser extent – for allowing the following act of amateurish ineptitude to happen:
- Two chartered aircraft took MLB Dominican players to Miami on 1 July so that they could then join their teams to get busy with Spring Training 2.0. [No problem here…]
- The players and the MLB staff members who were on those flights were not tested for COVID-19 before boarding the aircraft according to a report in this morning’s Washington Post. [Are you kidding me?]
- “Multiple players” on those flights have subsequently tested positive. [Surprise!]
Asked to explain this exacta of stupidity and incompetence leading to a total lack of credibility, here is what an MLB spokesperson had to say after noting that tests are less available in the Dominican Republic than they are in the US and that:
“… shipping saliva samples from the Dominican Republic to the U.S. was not possible due to governmental restrictions.”
MLB had 110 days to figure out minor obstacles such as:
- Availability of tests in a country whose health system and resources are not considered “gold standard”.
- How to mitigate that problem either by bringing your own tests or quarantining the players for a time before putting them on the aircraft untested.
Here is the link to the report in this morning’s Washington Post. The author is ever so polite there by saying that this goat rodeo merely lends “more skepticism to baseball’s restart plan.” I should say so…
The distance from Santo Domingo in the D.R to Miami is 828 miles; an aircraft can make that flight in about 90 minutes. Add in time to load the plane, taxi to the runway, taxi around the airport in Miami and unload the plane and those folks were in a confined space with recirculated air for at least 2 hours and probably 2.5 hours. Airplanes use HEPA filters for the recirculated air – as well they should. The problem is that the diameter of the coronavirus is three times smaller than the pore size of the best HEPA filters. The folks on those flights were in close contact with and breathing the same air with one another for at least 2 hours and no one knew that at least one person got on the plane with the virus in his system.
[Aside: This is precisely why I am not about to get on an airplane to take a trip anywhere in the foreseeable future. For the record, we have already canceled our annual autumnal pilgrimage to Las Vegas. We did that prior to the breaking of this news; I am not about to put my health status in the hands of a couple hundred other people whose fastidiousness I have no way to measure.]
For baseball – and baseball fans – this should evoke a double face-palm simply because humans only have two arms and hands. Supposedly, MLB has a health and protocol in place that is more than a hundred pages in length – – and it did not have a way to prevent this kind of abject stupidity to occur? This is not about the difficulty of acquiring testing materials in the D.R.; this is about the lack of foresight regarding an obvious disease vector. No one is going to be nominated for the Nobel Prize in Medicine this year because (s)he figured out that traveling on an airplane with an infected individual – or more – might spread the virus among the other passengers.
Since the subject here is baseball and I have my adrenal glands pumping, let me say that if/when there are MLB games in 2020 there are two rules that will be in effect that I simply do not like:
- The DH will be in effect for all games. Let me say this as politely as I can. If a player is a big fat guy who can hit the ball a mile and do nothing else on a baseball diamond at a skill level greater than a walrus on roller skates, he does not belong in the major leagues.
- In games that go to extra innings, the team at bat will begin their innings with a runner on second base. For the stat mavens, he will be there based on an error – – but no error will be charged to anyone. The stat mavens should have a ball with that one. [Aside: They should make the big fat guys who are the team DHs be that base runner…]
Finally, staying with today’s baseball theme, here is a comment by Greg Cote in the Miami Herald recently:
“Cubs pitcher Jose Quintana lacerated his thumb while washing dishes. Jose. You make big-league money. Look into this really neat invention. It’s called a dishwasher!”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………