Bubble Baseball 2020

Photo by Alonzo Coston

Bubble Baseball: the St Louis Cardinal Blues and More


By David A. Avila

A protective chain is as strong as its weakest link. Two players from the St. Louis Cardinals ventured out for coffee and mayhem and returned to spread the coronavirus to their teammates.

After more than a week without play the team that brought Stan Musial, Bob Gibson and numerous World Series titles has been quarantined. When it resumes play, they will make up the lost games with seven-inning doubleheaders.

It seems in-the-bubble style of play can work and continues to provide protection for the Major League teams attempting to play a 60-game schedule in 2020. But how many more teams will be felled?

Last weekend, the Cleveland Indians saw Zach Plesac ignore restrictions and take a night on the town with friends. His celebration after pitching shutout innings in a dominant performance was discovered. He was immediately taken off the active roster and placed on quarantine. Days later, it was also revealed another Indian pitcher Mike Clevinger took part in the same celebration but did not reveal his participation. He also endangered the entire team by getting on the plane with teammates before it was unraveled that he had also escaped the bubble to celebrate.

Clevinger too was taken off the active roster and the Indians began testing all of its players. Both Clevinger and Plesac are starting pitchers for the Indians and their absence creates a big hole on their rotation.

Different teams are taking different approaches to creating a bubble for its players. The Los Angeles Dodgers have large recreational vehicles parked at the Dodger Stadium parking lot on home games. It resembles a small town gathering with white colored recreational vehicles parked side by side.

So far only two teams have been severely affected -Florida Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals. But this year’s baseball season remains teetering on a high wire with any slip capable of sending the entire 2020 season plummeting to its demise. The Cardinals have only played five games this season.


Houston Problem

Wherever the Houston Astros go trouble seems to follow. Whether it’s at home against the Dodgers who still feel they were cheated out of a World Series championship by the Astros in 2017, or against the Oakland A’s whose center fielder was hit by pitches three times by Astro hurlers.

Those Astros are in the middle of it.

Strangely, the Astros never seem to get harsh punishment for any of their deeds. When Dodger reliever Joe Kelly fired pitches behind two Astros he was given an eight-game suspension despite not hitting either batter. Yet, three Astro pitchers hit Ramon Laureano and then one of the Astro bench coaches Alex Cintron taunted the A’s outfielder as he was approaching first base. Benches erupted as Laureano charged the Astros bench and he was subsequently suspended six games.

That makes no sense. He was the target of three Astro pitchers and could have been seriously injured. Once is an accident, three times is intentional.

The Astro’s bench coach Cintron was suspended 20 games and rightfully so.

ESPN revealed on Wednesday that a podcast show “The Big Swing” by Dodger pitcher Ross Stripling had Joe Kelly explaining his reactions to the Astros and the suspension. On the same day MLB reduced his suspension to five games after the Laureano incident.

Kelly was not in a forgiving mood regarding MLB or the Astros.

The fiery Dodger pitcher from Riverside, California said that Carlos Correa of the Astros should have been cited for spitting at their direction but was not.

“I socially distanced. I walked away. I didn’t get close and I followed all the guidelines of the CDC, and people on the other side (the Astros)  didn’t,” said Kelly on the podcast. “This guy walks over to our dugout and then spits, while I follow all the rules and I get eight games.”

Kelly said he has no respect for the Astros players who were granted immunity by the MLB for their part in the cheating scandal. He further claims it resulted in the loss of careers for non-players like Alex Cora, Carlos Beltran, A.J. Hinch and other Houston front office personnel.


Trout’s baby

Mike Trout was mired in a hitting slump for the first two weeks of the re-started baseball season. Now the world knows why.

When Trout’s wife eventually delivered their first child the Los Angeles Angel outfielder returned to the team and immediately went to work by punishing pitchers with a slew of eye-popping home runs that left the opposition dizzy. I guess having his first baby was busy on his mind.

With Trout hitting long distance homeruns the other teammates slumping like Anthony Rendon and Albert Pujols suddenly ignited too. Hitting is contagious and now the Angels lead the Major Leagues in homeruns at 34 with the San Diego Padres in second with 32.