Derek Jeter thinks the Miami Marlins are getting a bad rap.
The Phillies played their first three games of the season before being shut down for more than a week because the Marlins experienced a team-wide COVID-19 outbreak.
Between reports of Marlins players spending time out during a preseason trip to Atlanta, and separate reports of the team deciding to play despite positive COVID-19 tests, the Miami baseball team has been put through the ringer in the court of public opinion.
But Jeter, the Marlins' CEO, believes his players have been unfairly singled out for their role in the outbreak that postponed a week's worth of games for multiple teams.
In a media session Monday, Jeter said both the Phillies and MLB also knew about the positive COVID-19 tests, not just the Marlins, before the Phils and Marlins finished their three-game season-opening series on July 26:
Derek Jeter just met with the media via Zoom. Tried to shoot down the idea that the decision to play Sunday in Philadelphia was his players' idea.— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) August 3, 2020
He said everyone was "aware" of the positive tests - including the Phillies & MLB - and they "all" decided to play that game.
When we played Philly, in terms of when guys were testing positive, those guys did not go to the ballpark, those guys stayed back at the hotel. It's not just our decision to go out there and play a game," said Jeter via a Zoom call with the media.
Everyone is notified. Major League Baseball is notified, the Phillies are notified, the Marlins are notified, and we went out and played the game. We followed what the rules and regulations that were in place. It's not like any organization independently decided to go out and play.
If this is indeed the case, it certainly pours at least a little water on the report about that Marlins group text decision.
Jeter also tried to paint his players' decisions in Atlanta in a better light, though he admitted they still 'let their guards down':
We've made mistakes… Our guys were not running all around town after our game in Atlanta, so I need to ask that that stops, they don't deserve that. We did have a couple of individuals leave the hotel. In our review, it was determined we had guys leave to get coffee, to get clothes, a guy left to have dinner at a teammates house. There were no other guests on sight, there was no salacious activity, there was no hanging out at bars, no clubs, no running around in Atlanta.
What it boils down to on this particular trip was guys were around each other, they got relaxed and they let their guards down. They were getting together in groups, they weren't wearing masks as much as they should have, they weren't social distancing.
It's good to know the Marlins weren't being insanely reckless, but it still might be hard to tell baseball fans to go easy on Miami players. In this unusual and dangerous time, it's imperative that everyone keeps their guard - and mask - up.