The Nationals are playing the Blue Jays tonight at Nationals Park in the finale of a two-game series in which they are the home team.
Then the two clubs will play again Wednesday and Thursday at Nationals Park, with the Blue Jays becoming the designated home team because they’re not allowed to play in Toronto and their replacement home in Buffalo isn’t ready yet.
Then the Nationals will have the entire weekend off because they can neither play the Marlins as scheduled in Miami nor at home in D.C. while that team deals with a coronavirus outbreak that has created a scheduling nightmare for several clubs.
Welcome to the state of Major League Baseball in 2020, where there’s little sense planning for anything beyond today because everything can change 24 hours later.
Though the Nationals were not directly impacted by last weekend’s outbreak of positive tests in the Marlins clubhouse, they did get caught up in the subsequent toppling of dominoes that has impacted five clubs. MLB has now determined the Marlins must pause their season until at least early next week while waiting for more test results and to see if the players and staffers who already tested positive begin to show symptoms of COVID-19.
At the same time, the Phillies - who hosted the Marlins on Sunday afternoon even after four Miami players were known to have tested positive - will pause their season until at least Friday, when they’re scheduled to serve as the visiting team in their own ballpark against the vagabond Blue Jays.
And the Orioles and Yankees, who were supposed to be playing the Marlins and Phillies this week, respectively, will now play each other at Camden Yards on Wednesday and Thursday.
Got all that?
“First of all, I think MLB did the right thing,” Nationals manager Davey Martinez said. “It’s all about keeping us safe. Myself, us, our players, the staff, everybody.”
The decision to postpone the Nationals’ weekend series became obvious over the last 24 hours. Martinez hinted Monday that the Nats were not going to be willing to fly to Miami for their scheduled three-game series, and perhaps not even play the Marlins at all. Nationals players may have helped force the ultimate decision, though. During a team meeting Monday, all but one of them voted not to travel to Miami for the planned series, Martinez revealed today.
“We’re really close, and we’re very united,” the manager said. “I heard rumblings from the players, and they had some concerns. I wanted to talk about it. We had a vote. And we all decided it was probably unsafe to go there.
“It had nothing to do with the Miami Marlins. It’s all about Miami and the state of Florida, this pandemic, that they didn’t feel safe. And I was one of them that felt the same way.”
Even so, the notion of asking a Marlins club with more than a dozen infected players and staffers to come to Washington and play at Nationals Park this weekend didn’t seem any safer. So by mid-afternoon, MLB announced the entire weekend series will be postponed.
It’s unclear what the Nationals will now do this weekend. They could stage workouts or even intrasquad games to stay fresh, but they won’t be playing any other MLB club in any game that counts toward the standings.
It’s also unclear if MLB will have the Nats and Marlins make up the three lost games later. They are scheduled to face each other twice more this season: Aug. 21-24 in Washington, then Sept. 18-20 in Miami.
“We hope that they will (make the games up),” Martinez said. “We want to compete on the field, and we hope we have the opportunity to play them sometime in the future. But only time will tell.”
Given the current state of things, it seems pointless to even try to think that far into the future.