Martin: MLB Should Require Marlins to Play Games This Weekend
Jul 14, 2020; Miami, Florida, United States; Miami Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas (19) gets the force out of Miami Marlins catcher Jorge Alfaro (38) while turning a double play during a simulated game at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
The Miami Marlins are the first team to see a huge spike in positive tests as up to 16 players have reportedly tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, MLB paused all scheduled Marlins games through Monday and are affecting the schedules and post-season chances of division rivals.
The issue of player safety is serious and should not be downplayed, but MLB should have a protocol in place to continue playing games after only a couple days of postponement. Now is the time for MLB commissioner Rob Manfred to use his executive powers to force these franchises to play their games, with or without their desired Opening Day rosters.
Reason 1: Alternate Site Players
MLB has implemented a system in which every MLB club has an alternate site with players who are separate from the active roster of players. These players should be utilized to fill the roster spots of any infected players on the main roster that are not able to play. Any additional players that are required should be added from within their system or acquired as free agents, waiver claims, or acquisition from other MLB clubs.
Testing is continuing for other Marlins players and they should be on the field playing other clubs as long as they are not testing positive for coronavirus. Plenty of players are ready to play for the Marlins and are a phone call away. The rest of the league should not be penalized by the potential carelessness of one MLB ball club and their inability to follow league protocol.
Reason 2: Integrity of MLB’s Program
MLB needs to get the Marlins back on the field to show they have a plan for safety that works. 29 other MLB clubs have been sanitizing, wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, and the Marlins should be held accountable and play with farm players if needed. The rest of the game is maintaining extraordinary measures to keep the game going and Miami needs to be following these guidelines and have MLB assistance to make sure they are following these rules. Furthermore, while the Marlins may be one of the few teams not viewed as a serious playoff contender, their inability to follow league protocols is now affecting the schedules of Eastern Division clubs with legitimate chances to play for World Series championship this year.
MLB has a great opportunity to show that they have measures in place to address these issues. Postponing games for a week should not be an option when alternate players can be called upon to play these scheduled games.
Reason 3: Franchise, Not Roster
The Miami Marlins and the other 29 MLB ball clubs are easily identifiable with the players and personalities on their roster. At the end of the day, the Marlins uniform and franchise will long outlive the current make-up of their roster. Whether it’s the 30 men that made up the Opening Day roster or another 30 in their farm system, the moment they put on the Marlins uniform, they should be considered a functioning ballclub.
Just as we saw the fictional Cleveland Indians team in the movie Major League or “scab” players crossing the players association in the spring of 1995, a franchise should be able to play games with other willing and able players eager for a chance to perform at the highest level. Sure, it may result in an unfair outcome for those clubs scheduled against the team but with the expanded playoff format of this season, it won’t have the impact it would have during past seasons.
The world is looking at Major League Baseball and how they handle the Miami Marlins. Here’s to hoping they take an aggressive and possibly controversial stand and ask clubs to honor their scheduled games with healthy players within their system.