Charlie Montoyo, manager of the Blue Jays, is a baseball expert. He played the game professionally. He has been teaching it at the highest level for decades. When Montoyo has something to say on the curve ball, I’m all for it.
What Montoyo is not is a health expert. Yet again and again it’s poor Charlie Montoyo who is pushed by the Jays to explain what is going on as the 2020 Major League Baseball season crumbles around them.
On Thursday, the MLB postponed Toronto’s three-game series against the Phillies in Philadelphia. Two members of this team – a staff member and a coach – have tested positive for the coronavirus. The result comes four days after Philly completed a series against MLB plague ship the Miami Marlins.
That leaves the Jays stranded in Washington, where they finished Thursday night. If the Nationals allow it, they could stay in Washington before restarting in Atlanta on Tuesday. Or they can head to Buffalo. Or they can find a parking lot and see if they can get a bunch of tents from Walmart.
When you want to know what’s going on in this rapidly changing situation, the person who ends up explaining it is Montoyo. And, God bless him, Montoyo is not the right person to explain this.
He’s a lovely guy and a wonderful public face for the franchise. But it doesn’t exactly reassure you that baseball’s coronavirus plan is watertight. Or sealed. Or covered with a tarp.
Here’s Montoyo on Thursday, asked about the many egregious violations of baseball no-contact rules (i.e. spitting, high-fiving, et cetera) we’ve witnessed since play resumed:
” That’s a good point. And they are trying. It’s only been a week of games and you’re trying to change people minds [things] this has been done in baseball for over a hundred years. … Little by little, we have to stop this.
Or Montoyo on whether the Jays will be accompanied by a COVID-19 compliance officer in the future:
“I don’t know about it yet. There is a rumor about it.
Or Montoyo on a report according to which, from now on, the team will be confined to its hotel:
“I think it happens, but I haven’t really figured out the rule yet. But I heard it like you, that there is a rumor coming.
Shouldn’t they probably have been doing this all the time?
“Yeah. (Then a quick change of tone.) “It’s just not that simple. People have families and everything. But I can’t find any excuses. … Not everyone believes the same as everyone else. It’s almost like politics, you know what I’m talking about.
Montoyo delivered all that spiel with a huge good mood. It is clear that he wants to be clear. It’s also clear that he has no real idea what the rules are, how they should work, or why someone is telling him to do anything.
If Montoyo thinks the standard rules of physical distancing can be reached “bit by bit” – though the pandemic doesn’t care how annoying they are – he’s not the man to enforce them.
If Montoyo thinks the team can have two opinions – “like politics” – about who players see, and under what circumstances, then get on planes together to go to new places and see new people, he will. is even less.
What really jumped out was the moment when Montoyo tried to explain the protocol surrounding family visits on the road.
“Before the family comes here, we send them tests. And they have to be tested before they get to our players, ”Montoyo said.
So you send them tests. They take them. They send them back. Then they get in a car or a plane or whatever and come to you.
Since we’re all minor league epidemiologists now, we can all see the flaws – multiple – here. What if they were infected, but not yet tested positive? What if they got infected on their way to you? The only way to make sure people are in top condition is to quarantine them before they are tested and disposed of. Montoyo hasn’t said anything about quarantine. Just a test and a trip.
Philadelphia has just found out how well it works. The Phillies were last in contact with the Marlins on Sunday. Their employees only tested positive on Thursday.
While Montoyo continues to refer to what baseball has as a “bubble,” it is not. Apparently it’s completely porous. By his own admission, people come in and out all the time.
The same players who are told not to punch teammates (repeatedly tested and eliminated) are then allowed to leave the team hotel and walk around Florida, Arizona, Georgia. or elsewhere.
(Montoyo said the Jays are already “trying to stay put” at their hotels. One wonders how much work the word “trying” does in that sentence.)
Whatever your analysis, it’s not health and safety. It is the theater of health and safety. By using the words “health and safety” quite often, baseball has convinced some people that it is what it does.
In fact, it does the opposite. MLB’s COVID-19 plan is expected to call out its disease and danger protocols.
None of this is Charlie Montoyo’s fault. He’s like the rest of us – someone with no scientific expertise to figure this thing out on the fly. Except most of us don’t deliver media updates.
So why are baseball’s Charlie Montoyos the ones explaining the plan?
Because the makers of baseball a) obviously don’t have a better idea of how it should work, and b) don’t want to be recorded when it completely breaks down.
Until then, anyone can pretend that baseball has this whole game under control. Don’t you think that’s true? Take a look at Charlie. Does he seem worried to you?
Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by The Globe’s editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. register today.