It hasn’t happened yet, but there’s a good possibility that Major League Baseball have to wait some time before playing baseball in Puerto Rico:
The fear of (the) Zika virus, palpable as ever in the aftermath of the Center for Disease Control report this week that linked a death in Puerto Rico to the mosquito-borne illness, is not scaring away all of baseball. It has, however, pushed the series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Miami Marlins, scheduled in San Juan on May 30-31, to the brink of cancellation. (Yahoo! Sports)
This is really a bigger concern than people are making it out to be. Yes, the Pirates organization has every right to be concerned and ask questions about something that’s unfamiliar to them as well as the better part of the United States. More importantly, everyone involved should be asking questions, including the players.
In case you’re wondering what exactly the Zika virus is, how it’s contracted and what the side effects are, here it is laid out by Sports Illustrated:
The Zika virus has primarily been contracted by mosquito bites but can also be passed along through sexual activity. The symptoms for men include a fever, rash, joint pain and possible conjunctivitis. The biggest concern is for women who have contracted the virus and run the risk of having a baby born with microcephaly, which causes an infant’s head to be smaller than average.
The health of humans all around the globe is a growing concern. That’s true whether it’s regarding the spreading of a virus, climate change, smoking, or any other sort of applicable factor. This should be sort of a precedent for the Olympics come August later this year.
Brazil has had a Zika problem and it’s concerned athletes all across the world, including the United States, to prepare accordingly:
While fans have altered plans to travel to Brazil, no Olympic athlete has withdrawn from competition. The effect baseball’s Zika-related decisions have on the Olympics, as well as future international competitions, go beyond influencing other athletes. Baseball wants to return to the Olympic program, and officials fear the decision to withdraw because of Zika could cause the same for other athletes and anger international Olympic officials. (Yahoo Sports!)
I understand why Major League Baseball wants to expand their audience and grow their brand outside of the United States and Canada. The World Baseball Classic also showcases some of the best talent from around the globe and Puerto Rico would be a great place to have it, especially for the city itself. It’s too bad they can’t move the series to Cuba especially since President Obama lifted the embargo recently.
The right thing for MLB to do would be to move the series back to Miami. They could reschedule for later this year but the teams are in different divisions and don’t play each other much throughout the season. It’s important to know that leaving Puerto Rico altogether until the epidemic is crushed would be the right choice.