MLB’s COVID Response: How Does it Affect High School Sports?

Photo provided by John ten Bosch

The MLB 2020 season had a rocky start. In the beginning, it was unknown whether there would be a season at all. The same can be said for Washington High School’s baseball team. From the moment school moved online, the season was cancelled. When the MLB eventually opened their league back up, the protocols MLB commissioner Rob Manfred put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 had little to no effect. In response, high school league coordinators saw team sports as unsafe and did not allow the WHS baseball season to move forward. 

Eventually, better rules and protocols were put in place by Manfred to mitigate the outbreaks. Major League baseball players began to be tested twice — before and after play. Players are not allowed to play until results come in. If a player is positive, they become ineligible until they test negative twice. While effective, the main issue with this system is that it is not a one-and-done solution: there can still be outbreaks among teams. As of October 7th, in the MLB there have been 104 positive cases made public, with the numbers going down as the season progresses.

While effective, the main issue with this system is that it is not a one-and-done solution: there can still be outbreaks among teams.

Additionally, it is apparent that high school players will not have access to the resources that the MLB has in terms of testing. “I think that seeing what the MLB has done gives us hope that we will have some sort of high school season next spring using some of the protocols as an outline,” said Micheal Mullins, the WHS JV baseball coach. “It will still not be easy because we will not have access to the testing that they have.”

Not only was their spring 2020 season cancelled, but practices for high school players have been cancelled until October 19th. While players can still work out on their own, it’s much harder to get live pitching and fielding. Still, some players think this quarantine time has given them a second wind. “I believe that COVID-19 has actually given me a chance to get stronger and work on the things I was having trouble with. Now it’s about getting into a routine and continuing to work to be better,” said Nicholas Tostado, a WHS junior and JV  baseball player.

During this past summer it was beginning to look bleak for high school baseball players and coaches, and with no season in sight, they would have to wait for a breakthrough in terms of a vaccine for COVID. But, the more we learn about the virus and its quirks, the more we learn about what measures we have to take to prevent exposure. As time goes on, the amount of MLB players being infected is dying down. Talk amongst high school coordinators seems to hint towards the reopening of a season some time this spring. At the end of the day, safety is the primary concern. However, with proper safety protocols, maybe the Washington High School baseball team will see a shortened season in 2021, similar to that of the MLB. 

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