September 2, 2021

With Seven Players Testing Positive For COVID In Six Days, The Red Sox's Ship Is Sinking

In less than one week, the Red Sox have had seven players and two coaches test positive for COVID-19: Kiké Hernández, Christian Arroyo, Hirokazu Sawamura, Xander Bogaerts, Matt Barnes, Martín Pérez, Yairo Muñoz, quality control coach Rámon Vázquez, and strength and conditioning coach Kiyoshi Momose. Two others (pitcher Josh Taylor and first base coach Tom Goodwin) are in quarantine. 

Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom:

It's gut-wrenching. How else can you react? . . . We try to go to great lengths to keep these sorts of things from happening, and then to see what's happening now, it's really hard. . . . Every person in this organization that isn't vaccinated pains me. We know that the delta variant is a different animal. And even against the delta variant, the data does suggest that vaccination still helps. . . . There's no real way to know if it would've been different if we had a higher vaccination rate or not. In this case, I don't know if that's knowable, and it doesn't seem that helpful to play the what-if game.

Ian Browne,

It will be interesting to see how the Red Sox will weather the storm until they get their best all-around player back. Players who test positive for COVID-19 are generally required to quarantine for a minimum of 10 days. The quarantine can be a little shorter for vaccinated players, though that hasn't been common. It isn't known if Bogaerts is vaccinated.

Last Friday, as the Red Sox began their current six-game road trip, Hernández tested positive. Arroyo was deemed a close contact and on Sunday he tested positive. On Monday, Barnes and Pérez tested positive and Taylor was labelled a close contact. Sawamura tested positive on Tuesday and Bogaerts was pulled from that night's game after he tested positive.

The Red Sox started Jack López at second base last night. It was the 28-year-old's major league debut after nine years in the minors. . . . Hernández might rejoin the team on either Saturday or Sunday.

Alex Speier, Boston Globe:

MLB has the ability to postpone games if it determines there is an unacceptable health and safety risk involved in playing, a calculation that relies heavily on contact tracing. The league has postponed nine games this year. Given the scale of the outbreak, it's unclear why the Red Sox are continuing to play.

Bloom said there had been no discussions with MLB about postponing games during the Red Sox' current four-game series against the first-place Rays. And so, the Red Sox have tried to adjust. . . .

[A] number of games have still been played while teams were experiencing outbreaks. The Red Sox played games against teams that had multiple roster members test positive. Last month, the Milwaukee Brewers continued to play even as nine players tested positive over a 12-day stretch. . . .

The Red Sox are increasing the frequency of testing, sometimes conducting multiple tests per day, in an effort to control spread. They've also re-introduced protocols from last year . . . There are questions about the team's use, or lack thereof, of one mechanism to limit transmission: vaccinations.

The Red Sox are one of seven (or six?) teams that has not reached an 85% vaccination threshold. The team said Hernández was vaccinated, but offered no specifics on the other players and coaches.

Since July 28, the Red Sox have gone 13-19, going from leading the division by 2.5 games to being mired in third place, nine games behind the Rays and two games behind the second-place Yankees. (Boston was 10 GB before last night's win over Tampa Bay.) The Red Sox (76-59) have a two-game advantage over the Athletics (73-60) for the second wild-card spot.

Since sweeping a three-game set from the pathetic Orioles on August 13-15, the Red Sox have been swept in three games by the Yankees and won two of three from Texas, the Twins, and Cleveland, before losing two of three to the Rays. The final game of the Tampa Bay series is tonight.

Gary Washburn, Boston Globe

It's rather stunning that we're still dealing with these vaccination issues, isn't it? . . .

Six months after most people were cleared for vaccination, there remains a major debate about whether to get vaccinated, despite there being no widespread medical issues from the vaccines. . . .

[W]e are still dealing with people who refuse to get vaccinated, and it's become a disturbing issue in the sports world. . . .

[It's] astounding that athletes would rather walk around their locker rooms unvaccinated, fully vulnerable to a virus that has killed more than 600,000 people in the US, and with the possibility of spreading it to teammates, because of some uninformed anti-vaccine philosophy. . . .

MLB Network announced that former pitchers John Smoltz and Al Leiter will be offering their analysis remotely because of their refusal to be vaccinated per company policy.

This is reaching absurdity. This is the biggest epidemic since the Spanish flu 100 years ago. It is still not completely under control, despite how many maskless people you see walking the streets or attending ballgames. This isn't over.

It appears that some are staying unvaccinated simply because of the impression that it is being mandated. It's their bizarre way of fighting the system. But as we have seen, COVID-19 doesn't care about race, gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation, or even age. It's deadly, something not to be messed with, and these citizens — including athletes — continue to push their luck for some senseless campaign against Big Brother.

Speaking of how is this still going on in a supposedly enlightened age, Washburn gets serious points off for using the extremely out-of-date and incorrect phrase "Spanish flu" instead of the "the 1918 influenza pandemic". That pandemic began in the United States in the final year of World War I. Wartime censorship prevented proper news coverage of a worldwide outbreak that killed an estimated 500 million people. Because Spain was neutral during the war, it freely reported the news, creating the incorrect impression that country was the epicenter of the pandemic.

On the plus side, Washburn devotes three paragraphs to the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male, a horrific case of medical experimentation that lasted 40 years (1932-1972).

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