Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas has tested positive for COVID-19.
Rojas, you’ll recall, was the one credited/blamed — depending on your point of view — for making the call, as the team’s defacto leader, for the Marlins to play on Sunday despite the team suffering multiple COVID-19 infections. Which was, actually, a pretty lousy position for Rojas to even be in if we’re being honest. If Major League Baseball was leading on all of this instead of merely reacting and improvising, the individual players would never be in the position to be making such decisions. In light of that, the fact that Rojas, and to a lesser extent manager Don Mattingly, have been scapegoated for Sunday’s game being played is unfair to them.
Whatever the case, losing Rojas would normally hurt the Marlins given that (a) he is, in fact, the team’s leader; and (b) he has started the season 7-for-10 with a homer and five driven in in only three games. The Marlins, however, may not be playing games for some time, however, and it’s quite possible that he’ll go through multiple rounds of COVID testing and come out clean on the other side before his club even takes the field.
The Washington Nationals are scheduled to play a three-game series against the Marlins in Miami this weekend. The same Marlins who, as you know, are having a thing at the moment. The Nationals, however, don’t wanna go: Ken Rosenthal just reported that “In team vote, vast majority of Nationals players voted against going to Miami for three-game series this weekend.
This is a massive problem for Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball.
To be clear: pursuant to the March Agreement and the later MLB-MLBPA agreed-upon health and safety protocols, teams do not have the power to simply not play games if they think it’s unsafe. That power rests with Rob Manfred and the clubs. If the Nationals decide to simply not get on the bus to the airport after their game against the Blue Jays on Thursday evening, they will technically be engaging in a wildcat strike.
To which I say: good for them.
As we’ve noted in the past twenty four hours, Major League Baseball seems to have abdicated its role in making these sorts of decisions. The Marlins, as has been reported, decided to play on Sunday over a group text. Since then baseball has reacted, postponing some games, but it’s not at all clear what philosophy is guiding them. If the Nationals players do not feel safe playing that series, they should not play that series. If it takes them making that decision for themselves rather than waiting for Major League Baseball to do so, so be it.
In the meantime, this creates a massive problem for Rob Manfred. If he orders the Nationals to play in Miami regardless of their feelings on the matter, he’ll look like a dictator who cares little for player health and will lose whatever confidence the players have in him. If he allows the Nationals to sit out the trip, on the other hand, he has formally ceded his power over the schedule to the rosters of the thirty teams.
Where I think this goes in the next couple of days is a great many conference calls after which some sort of compromise is announced that allows this all to look like the league is handling this pursuant to a plan. But make no mistake, the fact that a team is voting on whether to play games or not — and the fact that they’re leaking that fact to the press — is strong evidence that there is no plan here at all. Or, at the very least, that the players do not have confidence in whatever plan exists.
Kyrie Irving isn’t about to allow WNBA players to go unpaid for opting out of the league’s abbreviated 2020 season. The Brooklyn Nets star pledged $1.5 million to help pay WNBA players that have chosen to sit out the season, whether its due to social justice or COVID-19, the Associated Press reported Monday. Irving has…
The Raptors’ guard left Sunday’s scrimmage early after knocking knees with Anfernee Simmons but confirmed Monday he is fine.
Well, there was that video of his daughter that hit Twitter and gave us all a chuckle. Initially she couldn’t find her dad on the television screen and got a little agitated. Once she found him though she got very excited.
While the rest of us laughed, VanVleet said it actually made him cry.
It’s one of the mostly unseen price these players are paying in order for the NBA to push the start button again.
“That was tough, man,” VanVleet said. “It’s funny ‘cause she’s a character. But yeah, it definitely hits home a little different, you know, not being able to see them.”
VanVleet has the option of bringing in his family after the first round of the playoffs if he and his family choose to go that route, but he’s still weighing the pros and cons on that one.
“I wish they coulda came with us right away, but they’ll have to go through their own process of getting here,” VanVleet said. “There’s a bunch of stuff they gotta do to clear quarantine. There’s a lot of obstacles, for sure. If I didn’t have two small children, I would say definitely yes, but I’m still trying to decide if I wanna put my kids through that.”
The big issue for VanVleet is the quarantine period that would have to pre-date any trip to see dad
“I wouldn’t wish that on anybody, locking my two kids in a room for four-to-seven days with anybody,” he said. “I don’t care how much money you got or whatever the case may be, that’s not an experience I would wish on anybody. My kids are rough, so that might be a long four days.”
On the court VanVleet said he, like everyone else, is still adjusting to a quiet gym without fans for games.
But his primary concern right now is getting back into the flow of the game, something he didn’t feel he managed in the first game and something he never had the chance to do in the second coming out as early as he did after the collision.
“There’s just so many intangibles and so many variables that are not present, so it’s a different game for sure,” he said of the NBA game inside the bubble. “But it’s still basketball at the end of the day, so we’ll see. I didn’t have much rhythm in the Rockets game and didn’t play much in the Portland game, so right now I’m hating it. Until I get my rhythm going, I’ll probably get more into it.”
The lack of rhythm was something head coach Nick Nurse touched on also and it’s not just the time away from the game that has created it.
“I feel good,” VanVleet said when asked where his game was at right now. “I feel good in practice, I feel good when I’m working out, I feel good in the scrimmages. Again, it’s gonna take time. I spoke about this a little bit earlier. We haven’t had our full team pretty much all year and now in this position playing a whole entire new game of basketball with a new team, trying to figure everything out.”
A MASK THAT WILL BE IN DEMAND
Both Nurse and VanVleet were wearing new masks featuring the Toronto skyline with the raised fist that is the symbol for Black Lives Matter when they fulfilled their media obligations on Monday.
Nurse was handing them out to all the team after a former neighbour of his from Liberty Village sent them down. Nadia Lloyd, a local artist designed and sewed an array of locally themed masks and are donating five dollars of every mask sold to Black Lives Matter. If interested you can see her line at nadialloyd.com.
“I just wanted to support a local business, small business owner, great artist,” Nurse said. “I think she did an amazing job.”
A CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK
Raptors 905, the G-League little brother of the Toronto Raptors may not be in Orlando, but they are in lock step with what the parent club is doing down there.
Led by 905 head coach Jama Mahlalela, the 905 are teaming up with First Book Canada and Penguin Random House Canada to launch the Raptors 905 Summer Reading Challenge.
Sponsored by Tangerine Bank the challenge is designed to keep students reading through the summer and not just any reading but books authored by Black writers which represent Black people and other minorities in a positive light.
They are stories based on the authors’ own experiences that foster empathy, understanding and a spirit of inclusion for the young readers taking part in the challenge.
It’s right in line with similar initiatives the Raptors are developing and carrying out on the NBA campus as they take part in the NBA restart. The team has made it clear that while the chance to defend their championship is vitally important to them, the chance to use their platform to foster change in society with regards to racial equality is their primary focus.
Five books including Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott, Clean Getaway by Nic Stone, What Lane? by Torrey Maldonado, No Small Potatoes by Tonya Bolden and Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson will be featured in the Challenge.
That’s five books in five weeks for a cumulative total of 905 minutes of reading
Two hundred Grade 5 students from Peel region will be asked to read one book per week and then write a short report highlighting what they have learned and what they enjoyed in each book. A weekly Friday virtual meeting to interact with the author will be led by Mahlalela.
“I’m so excited to be able to participate and help guide some of the discussion around these books and more broadly around some really important issues in our community,” Mahlalela. “I have always been passionate about education and the knowledge that comes through that, and reading is such a valuable tool for kids, and adults, to continually work at and develop.”