Following COVID-19 clusters that saw 13 Cardinals and more than 20 Marlins test positive for the coronavirus, MLB and and the players association (MLBPA) have reportedly agreed to new safety protocols designed to reduce the risk of additional outbreaks within the game.
In a series of tweets, Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal details the new measures:
- Players and staff must wear face coverings that cover the mouth and the nose at all times while at the ballpark other than while on the field of play itself. This new mandate includes the dugout and bullpen.
- In order to minimize time spent together indoors, home teams must provide outdoor covered spaces for the visiting team. Home teams must also provide appropriate spaces that allow for social distancing during rain delays.
- Traveling parties must be reduced to absolutely essential personnel.
- Players and team personnel must wear face coverings at all times at team hotels other than in each person's individual hotel room.
- A member of a road team, whether player or staff, must inform the team compliance officer if he or she wishes to leave the team hotel for any reason.
- Home team players and staff members are now prohibited from going to, in Diamond's words, "bars, lounges, malls or other places in which larger groups gather."
Diamond also tweets that MLB and the MLBPA have agreed to disciplinary measures for players and staff who violate these new guidelines. Diamond writes:
"Any covered individual found to be flagrantly violating these protocols, including refusing to wear a face covering after being reminded, can be banned from further participation in the 2020 season, following a written warning." [Emphasis added.]
While the 2020 season spans just 60 regular season games, players are receiving full pro-rated salaries for those games plus additional revenues from the postseason that's been expanded from 10 to 16 teams. As such, banishment for the balance of the season would entail a significant financial hit.
CBS Sports HQ analyst David Samson discussed the new MLB protocols on the latest episode of Nothing Personal With David Samson. Listen below:
Mere days ago, the outbreaks within the Marlins and Cardinals rosters and the slew of postponements that results seemed to have the potential to scuttle the season. For now, those waters have calmed, and these new measures -- if adhered to and enforced -- would seem to increase the chances that the 2020 MLB season is played to completion.