Rob Manfred did an interview with Tom Verducci on MLB Network Monday evening to address the Miami Marlins COVID-19 outbreak. With a major story developing in his sport, Manfred opted for a softball interview from the media arm of the league he oversees. Given how he answered the questions, MLB's commissioner is still clueless.
At last count, 11 Marlins players of the 33 who have been traveling with the team -- and two coaches -- have tested positive for COVID-19. That's an enormous outbreak. It's also troubling that Miami took the field against the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday knowing an outbreak was brewing.
Baseball is in need of strong leadership from its commissioner in the face of such a crisis. Unfortunately, instead of a competent leader, the league has Rob Manfred.
During his MLB Network interview, Manfred announced the Marlins won't play their two scheduled home games against the Baltimore Orioles on Monday and Tuesday. But if Miami gets good news from test results, the team will travel to Baltimore for two games on Wednesday and Thursday.
That plan is asinine. Look, I like MLB Network and I like Tom Verducci, but the fact that Manfred's instinct in a crisis was to run to the most comfortable outlet available to him should tell you all you need to know.
Emory epidemiologist Dr. Zachary Binney told The Athletic the idea of the Marlins traveling to Baltimore to play the Orioles was idiotic:
“This is absolutely insane … if possible, the literal stupidest possible plan,” Binney said on Twitter. “You have a raging outbreak, anyone in the Marlins traveling party could be infected regardless of how their tests come back. So by all means, just bring that on the road to Baltimore!”
Beyond that, how does Manfred account for the fact that a number of players who tested positive were playing for the Marlins on Sunday? How did the Marlins wind up deciding among themselves to play instead of having league guidelines that determine whether or not they can? Why was a team group text the deciding factor instead of health and safety protocols?
Manfred has shown himself to be incompetent for months. He clearly has no idea how to handle what's in front of him right now. He and the league are woefully unprepared for this. Their reaction to the crisis has basically been to shrug and claim they'll test a few people and hope for the best. That's not a strategy it's prayer that things will work out.
Manfred & Co. clearly didn't have a detailed plan for every contingency and that is criminal. He should have been forced to resign months ago, but this should be the final straw. He's clearly not up to the job of running a major professional sports league.