A quick glance at the St. Louis Cardinals a little over a week after two players tested positive for COVID-19 looks bleak. Less than bleak, even. As of August 9th, sixteen club members have been flagged for the virus, with nine players and seven staffers combining for that number. After a slew of Cards tested positive in Milwaukee, the MLB had the team on full lockdown in their haunted hotel. Players got creative to get their work in. It felt like a fever dream.
After two consecutive days of negative tests, the league finally cleared the team to return to St. Louis and prepare for a series against their rival Chicago Cubs. Spirits were high as the Redbirds arrived in Missouri, then came crashing to the earth as two more players and another team member’s positive tests triggered the warning sirens. The Cardinals’ homestand was shut down as concerns about further infection abounded, and their subsequent series versus the Pittsburgh Pirates was preemptively postponed in a plethora of prudence against further positive tests.
With just five games under their belt, and not having played an inning since July 29, the mathematics of St. Louis fitting in a full 60-game season will soon become untenable. With double-headers piling up in the Redbirds’ schedule, at some point it will no longer be logistically possible to complete enough games to even pretend like this season is legitimate. Further, by the time the Cardinals return to a baseball diamond, it will be with either a hobbled-together team of replacements, a la Miami Marlins, or a recovering and fatigued group of ex-infected players.
More importantly than all of that, however, is the fact that athletes and human beings are currently suffering from a disease with still unknown consequences. Paul DeJong was poised to solidify his status as a true quality shortstop, on both sides of the ball. Who’s to say he comes back the same man post-COVID? Yadier Molina was hinting at continuing his career after his contract with the Cardinals ran out; maybe that changes now. Skipper Mike Shildt has noted that those infected have been dealing with a variety of symptoms, some severe enough to require a trip to the ER. Even if it’s just for some extra fluids and a check-up, that isn’t insignificant.
Point being, who really cares if the Cardinals can’t finish this season, when there is more than baseball at stake? There is this strange disconnect between being a professional baseball player and a human being, as if one cannot be the other simultaneously. I would rather see every Cardinal staff member, Yadier Molina, Paul DeJong, Edmundo Sosa, Rangel Ravelo, Junior Fernandez, Kodi Whitley, Austin Dean, perhaps Carlos Martinez (though he declined to share the results of his testing), and Ryan Helsley recover healthily than see Jack Flaherty throw one more perfect, delicious four-seamer or witness another web gem via Kolten Wong. Here’s hoping that full recovery and more Cardinals baseball are not mutually exclusive.
The St. Louis Cardinals will presumably resume their season on August 13th, with a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers in Michigan. First pitch is at 12:10 PM.
Featured Image: @Cardinals