If baseball media were more interested in anything other than carrying water for the owners, parlaying their connections into free Springsteen tickets, what Hunter Renfroe alleged yesterday would become a story. Luckily for MLB, that’s not the case.
Renfroe was on a radio show yesterday and claimed that MLB had told the Red Sox to stop testing their players for COVID and just deal with the symptoms as they came up.
Here’s what Renfroe said on WEEI’s “Merloni and Fauria” show:
“MLB basically told us to stop the testing and just treat the symptoms. And we were like, ‘No, we’re going to figure out what’s going on and keep trying to keep this thing under control.’”
When asked if MLB had asked the Red Sox to stop testing, here’s what he said.
“Yes,” Renfroe said.
“And just so to try to play, move on and don’t worry about it?” host Lou Merloni asked.
“Yes,” Renfroe said.
MLB has of course denied this accusation, telling the Boston Globe Renfroe’s statement “is completely wrong and inaccurate,” and the Red Sox released a statement denying the change as well. But what else are they going to do?
“We have been following MLB’s COVID-19 protocols all season long,” read the Red Sox statement. “We have consulted closely with them on everything we’ve done and continue to test and their medical staff has been very supportive.”
So let me ask you: Do you think Manfred is capable of fudging or eliminating COVID test results silently to make sure the season doesn’t go off the rails for any team? Especially as we get late into the season and playoff spots are being contested? Or the playoffs themselves? After last year’s World Series, where one of the major storylines at the end of it all was that Justin Turner had tested positive, had to be pulled from Game 6, and then came back out on the field for the celebration? Do you think Manfred is capable of that? With all you know?
We all have the same answer. Manfred has already seen the Red Sox and Yankees, the league’s two tent-pole teams, have COVID outbreaks. It’s possible one or even both could miss the playoffs by thin margins, which they could blame on those outbreaks. How many more teams would Manfred risk having that beef? Especially in September, when baseball is supposed to be at its peak.
Renfroe will almost certainly be made to back down from his claims, and even if someone wanted to, it would be nearly impossible to prove, unless a group of players went on record. But we know Manfred, we know just how sniveling he is, and we know how important the playoffs being uncompromised for TV is to him and his bosses, the owners. He’s completely capable of such a thing, especially so close to the end of the season.
He hasn’t even gotten to his own lockout yet, which will surely be his crowning achievement in his mind.
The women’s side of the U.S. Open has become quite a story, as two teenagers will compete in the final on Saturday night. Leylah Fernandez won yet another three-set match, this time besting Aryna Sabalenka, the third top-five player she’s topped on her way to the final. Emma Radacanu saw that and raised in the second match last night, basically clobbering Maria Sakkara in straight sets. Which means not only is Raducanu the first qualifier to reach the U.S. Open final, but she’s done it without dropping a set. It’s truly remarkable.
Both players have played like they have nothing to lose, which they kind of don’t. Fernandez’s return game is somewhere around Dikembe Mutombo’s, such is the level of rejection. She’s been unafraid to step inside the baseline on opponents’ first serves and send them right back where it came from, with interest, letting her timing and instinct take over.
Both players showed nerve last night when their more experienced opponents wilted. Sabalenka fell apart in the last games of both the first and third set on her serve, which cost her both sets. Sakkari was down 5-0 in the first set before pulling herself together, but it was too late. Meanwhile, the two kids couldn’t miss.
Here’s what Raducanu was pulling all night:
Whoever wins on Saturday, it will be historic. And the tennis itself should be gripping, if these two keep playing like they’re using house money. Which they are.