Major League Baseball’s 2020 season has been marred and delayed by COVID-19 outbreaks — the virus has raised questions about the viability of having a season at all. So it’s probably not ideal that a bench-clearing brawl — a fight apparently partially instigated by a coach, no less — resulted in a whole mess of people moshing together, screaming and punching.
It all started when one player, the Oakland Athletics Ramon Laureano, was hit by a pitch thrown by Houston Astro Humberto Castellano. Laureano seemed to be fine, if in a little pain. But things escalated, apparently after Houston batting coach Alex Cintron started talking with Laureano. Soon enough people were rolling on the ground, trading punches, and, importantly, breathing all over each other in close quarters. If someone in this fight had coronavirus, it’s not hard to imagine the virus being spread during the scrap.
Here: Look at this stupid mess.
Here’s a video just showing the start of the fight. You can see Cintron yell at Laureano before retreating behind a wall of Astros players.
Laureano has been hit by a pitch three times in three games against the Astros. Oakland batters have been hit a total of five times during this three-game series. The Astros are now infamous for carrying out a massive, high-tech cheating scheme that helped the team win a World Series in 2017.
It’s not totally clear why so many players had been hit, but it sure seems like retaliation. Oakland pitcher Mike Fiers, who did not pitch in the series, was the player who went public and unveiled Houston’s rampant cheating.
That tension boiled over with the massive brawl, which resulted in players in the stands even jumping onto the field to fight. It seems likely Laureano and Cintron will be handed suspensions at the very least.
“Ramon’s not going over there for no reason,” Oakland Manager Bob Melvin said, referencing Houston coach Cintron, according to ESPN. “I think the league will know who that is and that person will get suspended. Hopefully that’s the case. Nowadays without fans in the stands and mics everywhere my guess is they know who it is.”
Suspension are fine enough. But it was plainly dumb for the teams to fight in the first place. MLB just last week introduced stricter coronavirus guidelines after the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals had wildly large outbreaks. Among the rules: everyone has to wear a face covering while not actively playing.
A mask-less wrestling match/brawl is a flagrant violation of the new rules. So sure, the teams might face punishment. But if things like this continue, it’s hard to imagine MLB making it through an entire season.