The Miami Marlins postponed their home opener against the Baltimore Orioles on Monday night after at least 12 Marlins players and two coaches tested positive for COVID-19.
Major League Baseball also postponed a game between the Phillies and the Yankees, as the Marlins had been playing in Philadelphia this past weekend.
Marlins Play Sunday After Four Players Test Positive
The Marlins stayed in Philadelphia after their game on Sunday to undergo more testing. On Sunday, three Miami players tested positive for COVID-19, joining a fourth player who had confirmed a case of the virus two days earlier. Despite those results, Marlins manager Don Mattingly said his team “never really considered not playing” the Sunday game, and players decided to take the field after a pregame meeting.
The Marlins learned before Sunday’s game that three players had tested positive for COVID-19. So they held a player’s meeting to decide if they should play against the Phillies. Can’t find that protocol in MLB’s 101-page manual.
— Matt Breen (@matt_breen) July 27, 2020
The Yankees would have used the same visitor clubhouse occupied by the Marlins. Workers disinfected the clubhouse multiple times, and the Yankees brought their own staff from New York, but that wasn’t enough to save Monday night’s game, sources told ESPN’s Marly Rivera.
BREAKING: Major League Baseball to hold an emergency meeting today after 14 Miami Marlins have tested positive for COVID-19 following their weekend series with the Philadelphia Phillies.
— Eric Jackson (@ericjackson) July 27, 2020
Multiple media members reported on social media that Major League Baseball officials planned to hold an emergency meeting on Monday following the news of the outbreaks.
League officials have made no announcements about what the postponements and the outbreak of cases will mean going forward for the 2020 season. But there are a number of scenarios that seem plausible, each of which would severely impact the already shortened season for both fans and bettors.
Even in an optimistic scenario, the Marlins could miss several games. If Miami loses out on 10-14 days of play without an obvious way to replay those games, their season will be shortened while their upcoming opponents – the Orioles, the Washington Nationals, the Phillies, and the New York Mets – could all lose a small number of games.
Lost Games Could Void Win Totals Markets
The loss of just a couple of games will void many totals bets on team wins. Most sportsbooks, including Caesars Sportsbook, specify that teams must play a minimum of 59 games for over/under wins bets to remain valid.
It’s conceivable that the Marlins could fail to finish the 2020 season. That would impact the competitive integrity of the year, no matter how MLB chooses to deal with the issue. Either every team in the NL and AL East will play fewer games, or the schedule will need to be adjusted to have the remaining nine teams play additional games against each other. In the latter case, that will likely create tougher schedules for the remaining clubs, as most projections pegged the Marlins as the worst team in the NL East.
Then there’s the nightmare scenario for MLB: that the league cancels its entire season, either now or due to further outbreaks. While there’s no immediate sign that this is in the cards – as of noon Eastern, the league still plans to play most of its games tonight – losing the shortened year would be a devastating blow after the work that was put into getting the season off the ground.
That decision will likely impact other sports as well. While the NBA, WNBA, and NHL have implemented bubble solutions that may serve to prevent infections once players have effectively quarantined, the NFL plans to hold games in its teams’ home stadiums. College football and basketball will seemingly be unable to implement bubble plans of their own.
If MLB’s attempt to play in stadiums across the country fails, NFL and NCAA officials may question whether it’s feasible for their sports to do so in the fall.