Under the current guidelines, players are tested every other day and results are supposed to come back in 24-48 hours. Given the rise in coronavirus infections in many places where MLB teams operate, keeping COVID-19 from shutting down the season was always going to be a huge challenge. If MLB can't get the testing right, they have virtually no chance. They need to get the ship righted quickly. Teams can't afford to miss workout days with such an abbreviated "summer training." Also, we're likely to see more players who are on the fence about playing opt out if the testing delays and mistakes continue.
Joel Sherman at the New York Post acknowledges the high difficulty level of what MLB is attempting to do, but points out the obvious fact that the season can not go forward if these glitches continue. Many of the problems over the weekend were foreseeable. Oakland A's GM David Forst sent a text message out to his players that was a scathing indictment of MLB and the company doing the testing:
"At this point, the blame lies with CDT and MLB and I won't cover for them like I did earlier today. Despite having our schedule a week ahead of time, they didn't alert us to the possibility of any complications around July 4th, and once there were issues, they did nothing to communicate that to us or remedy the situation until Nick (Paparesta, the A’s head athletic trainer) and I forced the issue at various times today. If possible, I'm as frustrated and pissed as you are (well, probably not as pissed as Matt is), and I assure you the rest of the staff is as well."Apparently a primary reason behind the delays is that no one took into account that it was a holiday weekend. They're using FEDEX to send these tests back and forth from the teams to the lab, and FEDEX doesn't deliver over the holiday weekend unless you upgrade the service. This would be easy to make fun of but, with a program this big, there's always the danger that the weakest link in the chain could mess the whole process up. What needs to happen quickly, however, is for MLB to get testing back on track and eliminate the mistakes.
When word came out Friday afternoon that only 31 players had tested positive, I was pleasantly surprised and relatively optimistic that the number was so low. If they had bothered to mention that a good percentage of the tests had not come back, I definitely wouldn't have been nearly as sanguine about those results. It's been fun over the last few days to read about how well key players like Yoenis Céspedes and Dellin Betances have been progressing, but stuff like that won't really matter if MLB can't get their testing regime as close to airtight as humanly possible. There's still time for them to do this, but they just can't continue to screw up any longer. At the very least MLB will have to delay the start of the season if they keep costing teams precious workout days.
It's not going to be easy to make it through a 60-game season and some playoffs under any circumstances this year. It's going to be nearly impossible if the story continues to be about testing errors and delays.
Joe Pantorno at AMNY.com reports that the initial bids coming in for the Mets are "weak" and unlikely to convince the Wilpons to part with the club. This is based on the following tweet by a Fox Business News reporter from earlier today.
SCOOP: 1st round bid indications for @Mets appear weak, likely below $2 billion-sources. Wilpons unlikely to sell at this stage unless something changes; bankers set July 9 for 1st round bids; hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen unlikely to participate-sources more @FoxBusiness— Charles Gasparino (@CGasparino) July 6, 2020
I don't find it surprising that initial bids for the Mets aren't all that high. Some of the bidders appear to be only willing to purchase the club if it can be had at a significant discount. The others aren't likely to make their best offer in the first round of bidding.
It reminds me when I used to sell stuff on eBay and I would get "offers" to purchase a $25 item for "$4.00, shipping included." One guy made an offer of about 1/3 of what one particular item cost me, then got mad because I turned down his offer without countering. So I told him that the item cost me much more than he offered, and I gave him a number a couple of dollars under the asking price just to get him off my back. I got another angry email that I was price gouging, although I had the lowest list price on eBay for the product. The lesson is that some buyers only exist to waste your time.
I'm willing to concede that moving a ballclub is a more complex proposition than selling electronics. I wouldn't expect a sale to happen all that quickly, but I'd be surprised if we made it to the end of the year with the Wilpons holding on to the club. I think they've proven that they're motivated to sell, and I'd be surprised if none of the parties offered a serious deal. There's speculation that Steve Cohen might find his way back into the picture if the negotiations drag on for a while, and that would make some sense to me, too.
In the meantime, it's fun to speculate on what's going on with the sale, even if the details that trickle out are fairly meager and occasionally contradictory. I think most of us look forward to the day that the Wilpons do sell, especially if the new buyer is willing to run this club like that large market franchise that it is. In the meantime, don't let these rumors make you crazy.
That's it for me today. If you don't normally check out the blog on weekends, I had a couple of posts on two classic Mets that weren't exactly feared by opposing pitchers when they stepped up to the plate: Doug Flynn and Don Hahn. Please check them out, if you haven't already. As always, thanks for spending some of your time here with us today. Please stay safe, be well and take care.
Follow me on Twitter @MikeSteffanos