In the span of a week, the Miami Marlins went from a trendy breakout team to the ultimate underdog story.
A rash of positive COVID-19 tests suspended the Marlins’ season. Barring any setbacks, the 2-1 Marlins — now owned by former Yankees great Derek Jeter — will return to play next week, although their lineups may look much different in the process.
Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball have turned their backs on the Miami Marlins. Whenever Jeter’s team returns to play, baseball fans should rally around them as 2020’s possible Cinderella story.
The Miami Marlins’ 2020 season is on hold
The Miami Marlins became the first noteworthy sports franchise to experience a significant outbreak since returning to play.
As of July 29, 16 Marlins players and two coaches all tested positive for the coronavirus. That reportedly includes veteran infielder Miguel Rojas, the team’s de facto captain, and starting pitcher José Ureña.
Marlins outfielder Harold Ramirez said he had a cough and body aches after he tested positive. Ramirez also said that no other players have symptoms.
Miami went 2-1 in its opening series against the Philadelphia Phillies. Media reports revealed the Marlins had several positive tests less than an hour before the series finale.
Miami players agreed to play the game over a group text.
The Marlins’ series against the Baltimore Orioles this week was canceled; the Orioles are instead hosting Giancarlo Stanton and the New York Yankees for a two-game set.
The majority of Washington Nationals players reportedly voted not to travel to Miami this weekend. The Marlins likely won’t play again until Monday, August 3.
Miami received good news with its possible replacement players. All players at the Marlins’ alternate site in Jupiter, Fla., tested negative for COVID-19 in consecutive days.
Major League Baseball has turned its back on the Marlins
Major League Baseball is pushing on its 2020 season without the Marlins.
All games, save those involving the Marlins and Phillies, were played on Wednesday, July 29. That included the Yankees playing the Orioles instead of their original matchups with the Phillies and Marlins, respectively.
The Phillies will play three games in two days against the Toronto Blue Jays starting August 1.
Major League Baseball’s decision to keep playing hasn’t gone well with some fans and media members. Both parties openly wondered if the season would have been suspended had a team like the Dodgers or Yankees suffered a mass outbreak instead of the Marlins.
In an interview with ESPN, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said the Marlins’ outbreak isn’t a “nightmare scenario.”
“It’s not a positive thing, but I don’t see it as a nightmare. … That’s why we have the expanded rosters. That’s why we have the pool of additional players.”
Manfred said he is optimistic baseball will complete the truncated 2020 season as planned.
The Miami Marlins are baseball’s new ultimate underdog
The sports world loves an underdog story, especially when the story ends with a championship. That’s why the 1999 Rams, with former arena league quarterback and shelf-stocker Kurt Warner behind center, are remembered so fondly.
Whether or not it’s fair, the 2020 Marlins are now an underdog story. The team’s low point was a mass outbreak and they already entered the season with low expectations.
Baseball fans should rally around the Marlins. With his comments about the Marlins’ outbreak not being a “nightmare,” Rob Manfred provided the impression the Marlins are a second-class team.
Before the outbreak, the Marlins used three words to describe their chances at competing this year: “Why not us?”
The same mantra applies to supporting Derek Jeter’s team. Why not them?