Mets players walks to the dugout before a game against...

Mets players walks to the dugout before a game against the Marlins on Thursday in Miami. Credit: AP/Lynne Sladky

The Marlins were quarantined in Philadelphia for a week as they dealt with a coronavirus outbreak. The Cardinals got stuck in Milwaukee for the same reason.

And yet the Mets were allowed to fly home Thursday night as long as the two infected members of their traveling party — an unidentified player and coach — stayed behind in Miami (those linked to the pair by contact tracing also remained).

So why the variation? Apparently, after the Mets and MLB consulted with health officials, it was determined that the safest course of action — for the presumably healthy members of the team — would be to get the heck out of Miami, the nation’s petri dish for COVID-19.

Sounds logical — but risky nonetheless. There also was the possibility of transporting the virus back to New York through asymptomatic carriers, which could potentially infect anyone outside the team, such as family or friends.

As a result, the Mets took extraordinary measures for the flight back, as one member of the traveling party described the trip. Some were given point-of-contact rapid tests as they boarded the plane, which was a significantly larger chartered aircraft to allow for more social distancing. Everyone wore KN95 respirators that had to be kept on throughout. No eating or drinking.

More tests were administered upon arrival Thursday night, as well as Friday morning at Citi Field.

Problem is, it will take at least another 48 to 72 hours to get a manageable grip on the situation, and the fear of a spread is likely to stretch beyond that, based on what we’ve learned from the other outbreaks.

That’s why scrapping this weekend’s Citi Field portion of the Subway Series was hardly a surprise. We’ve come to expect such things by now. And from MLB’s perspective, postponing games between two teams in the same city, separated by 10 miles, is no doubt the easiest rescheduling they’ll have to do this season.

That’s not the issue, whether it’s sacrificing Monday’s mutual off day or stacking up a couple of seven-inning doubleheaders at Yankee Stadium. The greater concern looking ahead is the accumulating fallout from these postponements, and the worry over a second surge at various league outposts.

The top priority, of course is everyone’s health. Beyond that, the COVID-19 interference has turned this season into a war of attrition by ratcheting up the physical stress over an ever-shrinking window for baseball.

The Mets had been considered a relatively safe environment, but the virus still crept in, and team officials couldn’t be sure when it did.

Given that the coronavirus has an incubation period between two days and two weeks, it’s possible that the player and coach could have been infected in Philadelphia — the stop before Miami — or even in New York before the trip began. That’s where contact tracing comes in. But were the Mets’ safeguards effective along the way?

It’s going to take these next few days to find out. With the Marlins and Cardinals, the cases multiplied into the teens before being contained. The Reds were able to halt the spread at one player, so there is evidence the protocols can be effective.

Considering that MLB was unable to employ a bubble concept for the regular season — it’s being discussed for the playoffs — this regional-travel concept is the best they could do. Relatively speaking, it has performed better than anyone could have anticipated despite the fact that nearly a month into the season, there has not been a single day that featured all 30 teams in action.

Based on that stat alone, the coronavirus still is undefeated. It’s been a relentless foe from Opening Day — when the Nationals’ Juan Soto tested positive hours before first pitch — and certainly won the weekend in New York. We expect these disruptions to continue, too, and MLB to plow stubbornly ahead.

The Mets had won three straight in Miami, their bats finally coming to life, before getting shut down. They’ve also had two high-profile players opt out in Yoenis Cespedes and Marcus Stroman, so another shocking twist of adversity is nothing new.

“We talked about the challenges that we knew were coming,” general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said after Stroman walked on Aug. 10. “As a team, we talked about health, talent and motivation. Those are the three things that were important to us when we started this season and those are the three things that we’re going to try to keep our focus on going forward.”

Right now, the coronavirus has derailed the Mets’ season for an indefinite period of time. And it’s the uncertainty surrounding the health of teammates, as well as a return date, that can be the hardest part.


Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months