Do you remember as a kid when your mom would ask you to clean your room?
Perhaps you listened but didn’t react, causing her to note an hour later: “I’m serious, clean this up.”
However, you didn’t heed her warning and instead played one more video game or went out with your friends.
That’s when your mom dropped the hammer: “Clean it up or else…”
I’m not sure about your childhood, but Mamma McElroy’s “or else” never ended well for us kids.
Friday, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred reportedly dropped this “Mom-ism” ultimatum to the players association in regard to some players’ loose handling of the pandemic protocol, which has led to a nightmarish opening week.
First reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan, one high-ranking official said: “There are some bad decisions being made.”
In just eight days, MLB watched the Miami Marlins organization combine for 21 positive COVID tests, leading to the shutdown of their team and the cancellation of their week’s schedule.
While the virus looked to be contained to just the Marlins, their opening weekend opponent, Philadelphia has been put on hold out of an abundance of caution. Then Thursday, a Phillies coach and clubhouse staffer tested positive.
The domino effect has led to the postponement of additional games this weekend, leaving Washington and Toronto with no opponents.
Any good news from Tuesday’s report of more than 6,400 negative tests around MLB quickly was erased after two St. Louis players tested positive Friday, putting a halt to the Cardinals’ matinee with Milwaukee.
In case you’re counting at home, that left six teams on Friday in quarantine, shutdown or just lacking an opponent — all just one week into the season.
This was enough for Manfred to turn to MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark and inform him that if the players don’t do better, he could shut down the season.
In short, tell the players: “Clean it up or else.”
The Marlins ignited this outbreak by “leaving their hotel to go out and have a good time in Atlanta,” according USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.
It should be noted to the commissioner that there have been holes in his protocol.
Manfred and MLB failed the Phillies when they didn’t postpone last Sunday’s contest after the Marlins knew of three positive tests in addition to a positive test from another player two days earlier. Miami’s decision to play the game came by its own approval on a team group text message.
How was that allowed to happen? Where were MLB and the health officials? There were other breakdowns in protocol and acts of careless behavior including multiple incidents of spitting on the field, high-fiving, hugging, and players not wearing their masks.
Last Sunday, Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash was photographed while out high-fiving his players on the field with his mask around his neck after their walk-off win.
Relaxed rules lead to relaxed behavior. Even worse, bad protocol can lead to chaos, which is the state MLB appeared to be in this week.
To be clear, it isn’t everyone. Friday’s latest round of testing reported only 29 of 11,895 samples showed new positives. Twenty-one were from the Marlins’ organization.
You could say MLB appears to be the microcosm for society. Some people don’t believe the recommended protocols apply to them.
“I don’t need to wear a mask.”
“I’m healthy”, “I’m young,” and my favorite, “this is all made up by the media.”
Other players around baseball should be furious at the Marlins for their carelessness, which has put the livelihood of thousands of others in jeopardy.
As Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said this week, “It’s one fail, all fail, in this environment.”
The Marlins are “Exhibit A.”
On Friday, Manfred warned the players, but perhaps others should heed his message.
The Marlins weren’t the only poster children for behaving badly outside the bubble. College football players should have their eyes opened by the Rutgers football team being put on a 14-day quarantine after several athletes attended an on-campus party. However, I would have hoped that Rutgers learned from LSU when 30 LSU players were quarantined in June after frequenting bars and nightclubs in Baton Rouge.
As many have noted before, this virus has more discipline than we do.
It’s inevitable that there will be positive tests across all sports, and it will most likely not just affect one team, but many.
More games will be postponed, and don’t be surprised when it happens hours before kickoff or first pitch.
This will be life in sports without a bubble.
Is it wise to do any of this?
Well, that’s a different topic. Right now, it’s not “if they should do this”; it’s that MLB, the NFL, and college football “are doing this” and for sports to succeed outside bubbles, they must rely on the discipline of players as well as the sports’ leadership.
Both were lacking by some in MLB this week.
One week into the MLB season has led to the warning: “Clean it up or else” and again, where I come from, “or else” isn’t something you want to leave to chance.