Chicago Cubs: It’s time to close the door on the 2020 season

(Photo by Larry French/Getty Images for SiriusXM,)
(Photo by Larry French/Getty Images for SiriusXM,) /

There are disputes between owners and players over salary and the number of games. But Chicago Cubs fans, it’ll be something else that ultimately ends the 2020 season before it starts.

It has been lurking in the background like some shadowy villain.  While Chicago Cubs fans have been witness to the white-hot arguments over pay and other issues, this villain, Covid-19, has been quietly at work.

At first, it was a player here or there. A couple of Yankees’ prospects in March, just after spring training, was called off by MLB, a Reds employee later that month, and then a Boston Red Sox minor league player.  Two Cubs employees in Arizona tested positive.

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Meanwhile, MLB and the MLBPA were working on protocols to protect players from Covid-19. No spitting, no face touching, an aggressive testing regime among them.  With the minor league season and spring training canceled, all seemed quiet.

Then, as if to ambush a hanging curveball as the ongoing discussions hit a crucial juncture…Bam.  The Blue Jays and Giants reported players feeling ill with Covid-19 symptoms and closed their facilities.  This was quickly followed by a report of five Phillies players and three staff being diagnosed with Covid-19. Then the Angels reported two players reported positive.  The Astros said a player tested positive.  All this within about a week.

Then on Friday, MLB ordered ALL spring training facilities closed and deep cleaned.  The villain had suddenly attacked and it all shut down.

Imagine if this had happened after an agreement had been reached with a shortened season underway. Or worse, during the expanded playoffs.

I know what’s coming.  Comments by all the doubters, the naysayers, the deniers.  We know that people with underlying conditions are more vulnerable—people like Anthony Rizzo and Jon Lester, both cancer survivors.

How many others are there?  Players, staff, front offices? We don’t know, but it’s no secret that the MLBPA has argued from the beginning for an opt-out for players with those kinds of conditions. It’s likely not a small number.

This outbreak among MLB players at their facilities, now, at the end of June? That’s the warning; the canary in the coal mine.  The canary is dying.

This is happening before play resumes. Before hundreds of players are boarding airplanes and buses, crowding into clubhouses and dugouts.  Every day, for 60 or 70 days.

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Worth the risk? No.  Not with all the other issues still outstanding and now the re-closing of MLB facilities. Let’s just stop this now.

I can live one season without baseball.  Especially if it means by March or April of 2021, we have a treatment for this thing and guys can play almost risk-free?  Absolutely.  Rob Manfred, Tony Clark, it is time put the 2020 season aside and plan for 2021.