Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In less than four days, the 2020 MLB season is seriously at risk after at least 14 members of the Miami Marlins tested positive for the coronavirus, canceling games in Miami and Philadelphia and kicking off an emergency league meeting.

Why it matters: It's a bad sign for baseball moving forward. But most importantly, it's a bad sign for just about everything in our daily lives — showing that something approaching normal can't simply be willed into existence.

  • Marlins players, aware of the team outbreak, decided via group text to play yesterday against the Phillies, circumventing a 113-page safety manual issued by the league before the season started, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.
  • "We knew that this would happen at some point. ... That was never our thought that we weren’t going to play," said Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas.

The league moved forward without the sequestered "bubble" concept embraced by other sports leagues that have restarted or are on the verge of doing so, instead allowing teams to crisscross the country.

  • The NBA and MLS, both bubbled in Florida, turned up zero cases in their latest round of tests, Axios Sports editor Kendall Baker notes.
  • It's not a great omen for football in the months ahead, as both the NFL and college football aren't planning bubbles.

What's next: We can't reasonably expect underfunded public schools to cope as they face reopening with conflicting guidance when a corporation with almost unlimited wealth is overwhelmed in a matter of days.

  • It's hard to imagine how a normal office is supposed to reopen when MLB players — subject to much more stringent oversight than most workers — can seemingly ignore their league's safety policies.

The bottom line: We're about to see the MLB's issues play out en masse in the real world as colleges reopen and welcome back students from around the world next month.

  • If you can't trust professional sports players to make smart decisions to keep their league running during a pandemic, how do you expect students freed from months of home quarantine to fare?

Go deeper

Aug 13, 2020 - Sports

NFL says its coronavirus positive test rate is under 1%

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The NFL has conducted 109,075 coronavirus tests of players, coaches and staff through Tuesday, with a positive test rate of 0.46% overall and 0.81% among players, according to the league.

By the numbers: During the initial intake process, the league tested 9,983 people, with a positive test rate of 1.7% overall and 1.9% for players.

The pandemic is hitting city budgets harder than the Great Recession

Data: National League of Cities; Chart: Axios Visuals

With tax revenue in free-fall and expenditures dramatically rising, the coronavirus pandemic is on pace to hit cities' finances even harder than the Great Recession.

Why it matters: Almost all cities are required to balance their budgets, and at this rate they'll have no choice but to cut more services, layoff or furlough more workers and freeze capital projects.

Aug 13, 2020 - Health

We're doing a lot less coronavirus testing

Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. is cutting back on coronavirus testing. Nationally, the number of tests performed each day is about 17% lower than it was at the end of July, and testing is also declining in hard-hit states.

Why it matters: This big reduction in testing has helped clear away delays that undermined the response to the pandemic. But doing fewer tests can also undermine the response to the pandemic.