The Chicago Cubs did not play against the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday night as originally planned. Rather, the game was postponed following a delay -- not due to COVID-19-related issues -- but because of torrential rain. Unfortunately, rain delays themselves have become COVID-19-related complications.
The Miami Marlins, who have suffered the worst COVID-19 outbreak in sports, complained about the inability to socially distance during a rain delay against the Atlanta Braves just days before the season started."We had all these guys and nowhere to go," manager Don Mattingly told reporters. "Then we've got a zillion guys in the dugout, so there's no way we're social distancing."
Perhaps Mattingly's quote was in Anthony Rizzo's mind when he took to Twitter on Thursday night to question why the players were allowed to sit around the clubhouse when it was apparent the game would not be played.
"Player safety?" Rizzo tweeted at the league's official account, "@MLB let's sit around for 8 plus hours inside the clubhouse.. I'm sure I can find that somewhere in the 113 page player safety protocol."
Rizzo followed up that tweet by sending a picture of the weather radar to the Reds account, asking where they saw a window to play.
Rizzo, a cancer survivor, has been taking COVID-19 seriously. He's even taken to carrying hand sanitizer with him when he's fielding his position. He has a point here, too. Based on what's known about how COVID-19 transmits, the chances are higher when individuals are exposed for lengthy times to larger crowds in enclosed or poorly ventilated areas at intimate distances. Jamming 30-plus individuals into the standard big-league clubhouse for hours at a time would seem to be a questionable idea (though players are supposed to be masked).
Whether MLB takes Rizzo's criticism to heart, and begins making obvious calls on weather-related postponements earlier than it might normally, is to be seen. It couldn't hurt if the league wants to do everything possible to avoid that other kind of postponement.