White Sox, Cubs heading in right direction, but MLB is not

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Cubs starting pitcher Yu Darvish warms up prior to a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Thursday. Major-league baseball has already had to cancel 17 games due to COVID-19 outbreaks. The White Sox and Cubs have stayed relatively healthy, but the game needs to move away from being in danger of completely shutting down.

    Cubs starting pitcher Yu Darvish warms up prior to a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Thursday. Major-league baseball has already had to cancel 17 games due to COVID-19 outbreaks. The White Sox and Cubs have stayed relatively healthy, but the game needs to move away from being in danger of completely shutting down. Associated Press

  • White Sox manager Rick Renteria walks back to the dugout after making a pitching change during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals Friday. Major-league baseball has already had to cancel 17 games due to COVID-19 outbreaks. The White Sox and Cubs have stayed relatively healthy, but the game needs to move away from being in danger of completely shutting down.

    White Sox manager Rick Renteria walks back to the dugout after making a pitching change during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals Friday. Major-league baseball has already had to cancel 17 games due to COVID-19 outbreaks. The White Sox and Cubs have stayed relatively healthy, but the game needs to move away from being in danger of completely shutting down. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 8/1/2020 8:53 PM

Overcoming some early struggles from the back end of their starting rotation, the White Sox are showing why they've been so optimistic about playing baseball in 2020.

Rising above multiple burps out of the bullpen, the Cubs have slugged their way to the top of the NL Central and are off to a promising start under first-year manager David Ross.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

There have been some stressful moments on both sides of town during the early stages of the 60-game sprint, but the Sox and Cubs are both looking like teams that will be playing playoff baseball in October.

That's assuming, of course, there is baseball.

The way the game has been moving in the face of COVID-19, a complete collapse could come at any day.

That would be a shame, considering all of the obstacles that have already been sidestepped to get the sport back on the field.

The White Sox played the Royals in Kansas City Saturday night and the Cubs hosted the Pirates at Wrigley Field. Both clubs had relatively full rosters though Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was a late scratch with stomach issues.

They were among the fortunate ones.

As MLB struggles to keep the coronavirus at bay, the Phillies-Blue Jays, Nationals-Marlins and Cardinals-Brewers games were postponed Saturday due to coronavirus outbreaks.

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Through the first 10 days of the season, 17 games have been called due to COVID-19.

The numbers are drastically trending in the wrong direction, but embattled MLB commissioner Rob Manfred does not see the plug being pulled.

"We are playing," Manfred told ESPN Saturday. "There is no reason to quit now. The players need to be better, but I am not a quitter in general and there is no reason to quit now. We have had to be fluid, but it is manageable."

One Marlins player in particular -- Manfred says he knows who it is -- has been identified for not following safety protocols and causing a coronavirus spread that has infected 21 members of Miami's organization.

This is a tough, tough deal for all involved with getting baseball back on the field, but it's going to be even tougher if it all falls apart.

The Cubs have yet to have a player test positive for COVID-19 since summer camp opened a month ago. The White Sox's Yoan Moncada tested positive right before camp started, and Nomar Mazara has been out for a couple weeks, but has been training in Schaumburg and is close to returning.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Both the Cubs and Sox realize the importance of being vigilant.

"I know they talk among each other about making sure, and specifically (Friday) we talked about it, of trying to do everything they could to mitigate the chances of being exposed," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "They're doing a good job, they're talking to each other. You probably noticed us trying to stay away from high-fives.

"We were shadow-fiving or spike-fiving. They are very cognizant of what's going on. Everybody is trying to do what they possibly can."

To get a full season in, followed by an expanded playoffs that should feature both Chicago teams, everybody in MLB has to try even harder.

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