As baseball plans to restart its delayed season soon, MLB conducted a COVID-19 antibody study involving players and staff from 26 of MLB’s 30 teams. Just 0.7% of Major League Baseball employees tested positive for antibodies to COVID-19.
The small number of positive tests came as a surprise. Study leaders say they expected more positive results.
Researchers received 6,237 completed surveys from employees of 26 clubs. The tests were administered in mid-April. About 70% of those who tested positive reported being asymptomatic, 2.7% had a fever, 14% had a headache and 0.9% had temporarily lost their sense of smell or taste. Of those who tested positive 8% reported a cough, compared to 9% who tested negative.
Dr. Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford, one of the study’s leaders, said the prevalence of the antibodies among MLB employees was lower than for the general population during testing in New York, Los Angeles, the San Francisco area, and Miami.
Lead researcher Dr. Jay Bhattacharya: "I was expecting a larger number of people to test positive."
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) May 11, 2020
“I was expecting a little bit of a higher number,” Bhattacharya said. “The set of people in the MLB employee population that we tested in some sense have been less affected by the Coronavirus epidemic than their surrounding communities.”
Bhattacharya said the low number of positive tests showed there is still a long way to go in the pandemic. “It’s very clear,” Bhattacharya said, “that the epidemic is still in the early stages throughout the country.”
While the percentage of Los Angeles Angels employees with positive tests was the highest among teams, the error margin is too high to draw results because just 123 tests were included from the team.
With all of that in mind, on Monday, the league’s 30 team owners agreed to a restart plan, which they will present to the MLBPA today.
MLB Plan To Reopen
- 82 game regional schedule and universal DH: A regional schedule helps to limit travel and isolate teams geographically. A universal DH would be put in place because of all the interleague play matchups and would also help protect pitchers from injury.
- 30-man active rosters with a 20-player taxi squad — The league would allow teams to carry a 50-man roster to help deal with a condensed schedule and limit injury risk.
- 50/50 Revenue split — the league has agreed to prorated salaries in March , but the owners are seeking additional pay reductions to account for lost revenue from games being played without fans, which is a good point.
Of course, settling the money issues will be top priority. Super agent Scott Boras has urged players to consider the 50/50 split a no go. MLBPA boss Tony Clark has been critical of the proposal already and will not revisit the revenue share issues after having agreed to terms on prorated salaries several months ago
As he should.
A more pressing issue will be player safety as some MLB players have expressed and raised a number of issues that need to be addressed. Washington Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle said that he is concerned with the proposal and it still raises some issues that need to be addressed such as “health protections for players, families, staff and stadium workers.”
Amidst reports emerging that our union and owners will discuss the proposal tomorrow, here are my thoughts as a player with a young family: pic.twitter.com/qiOl5HlaOd
— Trevor Williams (@MeLlamoTrevor) May 11, 2020
There are still some serious issues to address before baseball can get going, but this is at;least a start. Any sport, however, that doesn’t include the fans is really wack.