Baseball’s quasi-bubble is working.
Thursday marked the 47th consecutive day — and 55th out of the past 56 — that there were no new positive coronavirus tests among players, MLB and the MLB Players Association announced Friday.
Further, the sport has gone at least two weeks without any positives, period, among tested individuals, which also includes coaches, executives and other staff. They collected 5,026 samples in the week of results revealed Friday (a total down from previous weeks as more teams were eliminated from the playoffs).
That is positive news as the season works through its proverbial late innings, the World Series set to begin Tuesday at the Rangers’ Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas — a neutral site that is part of MLB’s efforts to clamp down on potential COVID-19 infections by mostly isolating teams from the rest of the world.
Teams have been in their so-called bubbles for more than three weeks, entering team hotels, even in their home cities, near the end of the regular season. Since then, members of the traveling party were not supposed to go anywhere except the hotel, the bus and the ballpark (and planes when they needed to change cities).
To simplify the logistics, MLB and the MLBPA agreed to stage the playoffs at hub sites — southern California for the American League playoffs and Texas for the National League playoffs. The bubble/neutral site idea came after the NBA and NHL found success with similar setups.
The complete lack of infections recently is a drastic improvement from the early-season results. When the Marlins, who missed eight days, and the Cardinals, who had to sit out for 15 days, suffered outbreaks just days into the season, it looked like MLB’s whole pandemic experiment of a season might be at risk.
But the coronavirus dynamic settled down from there. There were no cases of cross-team, on-field spread, and when teams did get a positive test result — such as the Mets on Aug. 20 — they missed only several days at most.
Every team except the Cardinals and Tigers (58 games each) played a full 60-game schedule. Those clubs would have made up the last two games if they had been relevant to playoff seeding.