Well, Major League Baseball in the time of Covid-19 is every bit the challenge many predicted. Despite the safety protocols, shortened seasons, and other notable changes, not only are teams missing games due to team-wide COVID outbreaks, players are discovered to be defying the various safety protocols in place.
Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Zac Plesac made news after he admitted violating league and team rules by going out after a Tribe victory in Chicago. The team acted swiftly, dispatching a car and sending Plesac back to Cleveland.
Unfortunately, the incident in Chicago did not end there. Veteran starting pitcher Mike Clevenger, who vigorously defended Plesac during an Indians’ team meeting on August ninth, was out on the town with Plesac in Chicago.
While both men defied safety protocols in Chicago, only Plesac came forward to self-report about the incident. Clevenger said nothing about the incident and flew home with his teammates. When Indians management heard the reports of Clevenger’s activities and subsequent duplicity, they placed him in quarantine.
Clevenger’s actions seem especially ridiculous in light of his July 30th statement regarding the team’s self-policing policies. Giving his opinion regarding the matter, Clevenger said:
“trust in your teammates is a big thing, I think This is a player discipline thing. Keep the coaches and front office kind of out of it. It puts a little extra accountability, kind of. Just having that…If you feel your teammate doesn’t trust you off the field, how are you going to feel like he trusts you when you get between the lines?”
It is highly unlikely that this is the end of the Clevenger story. If you are familiar with baseball, you know about the close-knit nature of pitching staffs. We may not ever learn the full details of ramifications from Clevenger’s actions. An issue adding to the sense of Clevenger’s betrayal of his teammates is his flagrant disregard for his fellow pitcher, Carlos Carrasco. Carrasco battled leukemia last season and is high-risk because of his immune system.
A member of the Indians pitching staff since 2016, Clevenger is known for what some may call interesting behavior. A better word for his selfish actions might be immature. In a recent Twitter post, Clevenger appeared to respond to the upheaval with a song lyric by Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder. “I knew all the rules, but the rules did not know me,”
From both a fan and a writer’s perspective, Mike Clevenger’s behavior is indefensible. Actions such as these jeopardize teammates. Additionally, the future of the 2020 season (strange as it may be) is hanging in the balance. If enough players disregard the protocols, and enough teams experience outbreaks, MLB leaders may need to consider calling off the entire season.
In my opinion, Clevenger would do well to follow the example of Tribe acting Manager, Sandy Alomar Jr. who said of his time off the field, “I know I’ve got to wash clothes and do exercise and just go back to my room.”
Listen to your Skipper, Clev. If you do, the next laundry you are airing might not be dirty.