By Lenn Robbins
On the same day, that the Yankees said that closer Aroldis Chapman had tested positive for the coronavirus, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said his concern for the playing of college football season is, “high, very high.”
What makes the timing of these two announcements so ominous for Yankees, and all baseball, fans is this: The MLB season is scheduled to commence in less than two weeks. The start of the college football season is still about two months away.
Manager Aaron Boone told reporters that Chapman will be out, “for the foreseeable future.” The good news is that Boone said Chapman has, “mild symptoms, but overall is doing well.”
Chapman, 32, is in prime physical condition and there’s no reason to think he won’t recover soon. But he can’t rejoin the Yankees until he passes consecutive negative tests, is free of fever for at least 72 hours and is cleared by doctor.
Meanwhile, if the SEC, the most hardcore of the college football conferences, is expressing real concerns about the upcoming season, it’s an omen for every league – college and pro.
The SEC has not followed the lead of the Big Ten and Pac 12 in eliminating non-conference games. The ACC is expected to follow suit. The Big 12 is more closely aligned with the SEC but discussions about playing only conference games have been held. The Ivy League already has canceled the entire season.
As for the Yankees, Chapman joins DJ LeMahieu and Luis Cessa as players that have tested positive. According to data released by MLB on Friday, since players reported to Spring Training 2.0, 58 have tested positive. An additional 13 tested positive after workouts began.
As much as sports fans are craving the return of games, nothing is guaranteed. As Sankey said, “We are running out of time to correct and get things right.”