MLB Season in Jeopardy Unless Players Manage COVID-19 Exposure, Commissioner Says

The MLB season started on July 23 and brought excitement to sports fans. This feeling quickly turned to concern, however, after several players tested positive for COVID-19. Now Commissioner Rob Manfred is warning the Players Association that more positive tests could bring about a canceled season.

According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, Manfred told MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark that the sport could shut down for the season. He said the game needs to do a better job managing the coronavirus. This news follows 21 players on the Miami Marlins testing positive for the coronavirus and Isan Diaz opting out for the season. Two members of the St. Louis Cardinals also tested positive on Friday.

ESPN continues to report that the season could shut down as soon as Monday, based on the number of positive tests over the weekend. Another potential issue is players not strictly adhering to the league's protocols. Manfred has the power to shut down the season after only a fraction of games, and he could make that decision in the coming days.

This news follows a different interview in which Manfred expressed the opinion that the season would continue. He spoke to ESPN after 14 members of the Marlins tested positive and said that the league had planned for a rash of positive tests. He said at the time that the positive tests were "not a nightmare situation" and that the players likely tested positive after a charter flight to Atlanta.

"We built protocols anticipating that we would have positive tests at some point during the season," Manfred said via ESPN. "The protocols were built to allow us to play through those positives. We believe the protocols are adequate to keep our players safe. ... I don't put this in the nightmare category. 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."

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While there are concerns about the league continuing amid a string of positive tests, some games are postponed while others continue on Saturday. The Houston Astros and Los Angeles Angels face off while the Chicago White Sox take on the Kansas City Royals. Many other teams will join them in action on Saturday while the fans express concern about future games.

If Manfred does not cancel the season, the teams will remain active for 60 regular-season games. The playoffs will start at the end of September. MLB will move forward with 16 teams (eight from each league) as they fight for the World Series trophy.