Boy, was I excited when Major League Baseball returned back in July. The Cardinals started the season by taking 2 of 3 from the Pirates at Busch, with the offense and bullpen looking quite strong. From there, it was off to Minnesota, where the Cardinals suffered a quick two game sweep at the hands of the powerhouse Twins. Expected, yes, but disappointing nonetheless. The Cardinals sat at 2-3 on the evening of July 29th, and find themselves in that very same position 2 weeks later. What happened?
Immediately following the first report of an outbreak within the organization, as well as postponement of the Milwaukee series to be played that weekend, rumors started flying around surrounding how the virus could’ve made its way into the Cardinals clubhouse. The biggest rumor that was circulating was that some players on the Cardinals had gone to a casino recently, contracted the virus, and brought it back to the team. As the Birds sat quarantined in a Milwaukee hotel, many reporters started throwing that claim around willy nilly, specifically former MLB player Jerry Hairston Jr., as well as the infamous Jon Heyman. Jon is a verified account and trusted source (at least up until a few days ago), mind you.
Days after this rumor arose, on August 5th, the beloved Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch published an article citing facts to refute the casino claims and prove them false. The casino that was allegedly visited by a Cardinal was contacted by MLB and asked to review their recent security footage. As a result, it was determined that no Cardinal player or personnel had visited the casino. Due to health concerns surrounding the coronavirus, the casino had implemented a system of memberships and reservations in order to keep everyone safe. If it wasn’t obvious enough already, this system allowed the casino to check names and patrons and determine that no Cardinal had walked through the doors of the casino. Not surprising; what Cardinal would own a membership to a casino in southeast Wisconsin?
The Cardinals organization has denied that any player or staff member broke protocol on the road trip, with the support of the MLB itself. Mike Shildt speculates that the virus entered the clubhouse via an asymptomatic person from outside the organization that might have come into contact with the club.
Another possibility of the virus entering the organization stems from two Cardinals, Harrison Bader and Dexter Fowler (ironically two of the most hated Cardinals within the fanbase, much to my and many others’ chagrin), who attended a Nelly concert along with former-Cardinal-turned-broadcaster Jim Edmonds. A rebuttal can be made for this situation, too, however, considering that the concert was outdoors and drive-in style, and that the guys were all wearing masks and distanced from other spectators.
Regardless of the cause of the breakout, the Cards quarantined in Milwaukee and were cleared to return to St. Louis for a weekend series with the Cubs.
Uh-oh… no way… this can’t be… Mark Saxon reported on August 7th that the Cubs series had been postponed due to more positive tests from the Cardinals. More taunting from other fanbases ensued, and my withdrawals from Cardinals Baseball strengthened. That cycle repeated itself until now, as we sit on August 12 having only played 5 games.
I think the reason the Cardinals had a second outbreak was due to the MLB’s irresponsibility in allowing the Cards to fly back to St. Louis a little prematurely. I obviously don’t have all the facts, but until new information is known, that explanation seems the most reasonable and it’s the one I’m going with.
I don’t know when, or if, Cardinals Baseball will return in 2020, as the schedule is looking awful tough to make up. The Cards have now had roughly a quarter of their season postponed, and making up 55 games in the time it would take to tightly pack in around 40 seems highly unlikely, as much as it hurts me to say. Seeing just 5 games of meaningful baseball be played by the Cardinals in the span of 17 months would be depressing to say the least.
All that I ask of people is to get their facts straight. The Cardinals did NOT attend any casino, and that narrative needs to be put to rest, along with an apology from the irresponsible reporters who jumped on that story and doubled down in the face of factual rebuttal. Whatever the cause of these outbreaks may be, I shall patiently await the day that my favorite athletes on the planet suit up in the birds on the bat once more and take the field, whether it be 2 days or 7 months from now.