I’d like to introduce a word not in much use these days in the discussion about COVID-19 vaccinations.
Scorn: Open dislike and disrespect or mockery, often mixed with indignation.
The harsh term captures my attitude about people who choose not to protect themselves, others and the national welfare by refusing COVID-19 vaccinations.
I understand hesitation, apprehension and reluctance. I don’t understand a 19th century response to a 21st century advancement in personal safety, which needs cooperation from nearly everyone, regardless of age, gender, race, religion, nationality or political persuasion, to help end a global crisis.
I get why it’s dangerous, and illegal, for governments and most businesses to impose laws and rules requiring vaccinations. I don’t get why requests from dedicated, sincere health professionals that we otherwise trust to help restore our organs, repair our bones and help birth our children, are rejected.
So I am scornful of anti-vaxxers. And have been.
It took the Mariners’ COVID-19 episode Friday to clear my throat.
Until then, I felt professionally and personally obliged to go along with the consensus approach of persuading, cajoling, urging, pleading, even bribing, the jab-resistant to accept the science that’s been around for more than 100 years. Even if this coronavirus was a new kind requiring an urgent effort for a fresh cure.
The Mariners and all Seattle sports teams have been uniformly diligent and earnest in following the conservative protocols established by city, county and state officials to curb the spread and open the stadium doors slowly. The pro teams have had few positive tests and minimal quarantines. The Mariners have been proactive with fans by offering shots at the ballpark.
We are excited to partner with @VMFHealth and @CityofSeattle to offer eligible fans walk-up COVID-19 vaccinations at pop-up locations inside of @TMobilePark, beginning at tonight’s game.
More info: https://t.co/4yNooQeqCa pic.twitter.com/yhTDSpg6hw
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) May 4, 2021
In MLB this season, a vaccination threshold of 85 percent of personnel was established to allow a relaxation of some restrictions, including usage of masks and social distancing. Not only would teams meeting the standard enjoy better health and closer-to-normal operations, they would have competitive advantages over teams who came up short.
For 15 months, the Mariners had run a nearly clean operation. Then they didn’t.
Arriving in San Diego for the start of three-game series with the Padres, manager Scott Servais was told Friday of a positive test in the traveling party. A few hours later, four relievers — Robert Dugger, Anthony Misiewicz, Will Vest and Drew Steckenrider — were were put on the injured list.
Rules prohibit teams from identifying infected members, or those quarantined by close contact. Still, it can’t be hidden that half of the club’s most reliable unit was taken away at once — a cumulative 58 appearances over 67 innings.
Ominously, more covid test results were to be made available Saturday.
“I’m disappointed,” Servais, clearly crushed, said on a pre-game video conference. “I really didn’t want to see anything like this happen.
“We aren’t out of the woods yet.”
(Saturday update: Dugger and Misiewicz were activated off the COVID list after they tested negative. Each had received at least one dose of the vaccine, Servais said. “They had to be out a day to make sure they were good,” Servais said. “Their tests came back negative . . . Every situation is a little different with the contact tracing and where they’re at . . . we’re lucky to have them back.” No further positive tests were reported.)
Then the Mariners played a game as if they were indeed lost in the woods.
They were pounded, 16-1 (box).
It was not possible to parse whether the abominable outcome was because of distractions, injuries or a perverse brand of baseball that features the game’s worst offense combining with the fresh hell of a decimated bullpen.
Post-game, Servais wasn’t indulging much in the way of excuses.
“It’s a little bit of a pile-on with everything else that’s happening recently,” he said. “You know, one thing you need to do as a professional baseball player is compartmentalize. You need to kind of set it aside. You got a job to do.
“If you can’t compartmentalize, it takes up too much of what’s going on between your ears.”
To compartmentalize what’s going on with the Mariners, you would need a head the size of the moon. Here’s a summary the transactions of the past couple of days.
- RHP Keynan Middleton reinstated from 10-day injured list (strained right biceps)
- LHP Aaron Fletcher recalled from Triple-A Tacoma
- RHP Wyatt Mills recalled from Tacoma
- RHP Yohan Ramírez recalled from Tacoma
- INF Eric Campbell selected from Tacoma
- C Jose Godoy selected from Tacoma
- C Jacob Nottingham claimed off waivers from Milwaukee
- INF Jack Mayfield selected from Tacoma
- INF Dylan Moore 10-day injured list (left hip strain)
- C Luis Torrens optioned to Triple-A Tacoma
- RHP Brady Lail designated for assignment
- INF José Marmolejos designated for assignment
- RHP Robert Dugger placed on injured list
- LHP Anthony Misiewicz placed on injured list
- RHP Drew Steckenrider placed on injured list
- RHP Will Vest placed on injured list
Roster tumult due to injuries and incompetence was already severe — Nottingham, a catcher, played the whole game at first base, where previously in his major league career he had spent 1.2 innings in 2019. Godoy, 26, made his major league debut mid-game after nine seasons in the minor leagues.
Then Dugger, Misiewicz, Steckenrider and Vest took themselves out of play apparently by refusing to vaccinate, although the reason was not cited by the team.
In the pre-game, Servais, typically an even-tempered sort, was irked.
“I know a few of our players have just bought themselves a ticket to spend the next 10 days at the Omni Hotel in San Diego, as they’ll be quarantined here,” he said. “They will not travel with us going forward until that 7-to-10-day period expires and they can rejoin the team or try to get back in shape again after being out.
“I would hope that a few more (unvaxxed players) might jump on board and get the vaccine, but you can only hope. I can’t force anybody to do it.”
The Seattle Times reported via MLB sources that fewer than half the players on the active roster and injured list opted to get vaccinated when first offered by the team in mid-April. General manager Jerry Dipoto said last week that the minor leagues were “90-plus percent across the board” but “lagging behind with our big league club.
“Hopefully that resolves itself soon, because like as happened at other places around the game, eventually it’s likely to crop up. It seems impossible that we’ve been able to avoid it for this long.”
Turned out it was impossible. The club is not alone; MLB and the players union jointly reported Friday that 14 of the 30 clubs have reached 85 percent. Nor is MLB all that different from other industries dealing with a small segment of employees who refuse to grasp the common good ahead of irrational fears.
“Take my emotions aside, they really don’t matter,” Servais said. “It’s about trying to keep our players healthy and doing the right thing. (Players) need to understand, yes, it’s a personal choice, but it does affect a lot of other people.
“So even though it is a personal choice, there’s different things you need to look at there.”
Stakes are far higher in the rest of world than losing a few ballgames. But each of us has a little part to do what we can, and pro athletes are more influential than many.
The Mariners, as with all clubs, have been careful, polite and supportive to the resistant ones. Didn’t quite get ‘er done. Here’s a vote for a dunk tank full of scorn — in case 16-1 isn’t enough humiliation.
Art could not be more correct or understated. Those who will not vaccinate are fools. They endanger the rest of us, prolong the pandemic and when it swings around in the fall to bite us in the butt again, we will know who to scorn and exactly who to blame.
I just hugged my granddaughter for the first time in 15 months last week. I missed her entire 5th year on this planet. Video calls are fun, but they don’t replace holding her, hearing her giggle in person and have having her nap next to me. I did it by getting stuck, waiting the two weeks for maximum effectiveness and flying with my mask on. It is not hard to do. I see it as a humanity issue. Either you care about your fellow man or you don’t.
And don’t worry, they activate the micro chip when you are sleeping, you don’t feel a thing. Usually.
Glad you reconnected with your granddaughter.
On this topic, be careful with sarcasm. Otherwise you may launch a conspiracy theory.
I am right there with you. My son was born last August, he still hasn’t met his grandparents up in Seattle yet and they aren’t getting any younger/healthier. They’ve gotten their shots and I will be traveling home next month to get mine (living outside the U.S. right now). Trying to convince my fiancé it will be safe to travel with him but as she watches the news about all the people in the states refusing to get it, the argument gets tougher and tougher.
Good point about young parents looking for direction from those older who are supposed to know more. The actions of sports teams, for whom wellness is essential, carry weight. The franchises understand the responsibility; individual players do not.
Hear, hear…We must open. So vaccines are fait accompli.
I’d first be a fan of open minds.
Wow, the Seattle Mariners actually hoisted a banner recognizing the franchise’s PARTICIPATION in the ALCS? That’s an actual banner, not photoshopped?
It’s called a participation trophy, kinda like Little League these days without the orange slices and juice box. And boy howdy the Mariners are about as close to being Little League as it gets.
They say winners get to write the history. But losers can participate.
You need to get out more often, Larry.
I don’t follow the Seattle Mariners, Thiel.
But you write so expertly. You seem to be paying attention to them. I say you’re a follower; just too prideful to admit it.
I’m a sports fan, Thiel, but, not a Mariner fan. I like sports, in general, but, not the Seattle Mariners, specifically. That’s not the team I follow. Never has been. I’ve been occasionally going to their games since I was a kid in the ’70’s. But, never as a fan of theirs who’s actively interested in seeing them succeed. A cousin of mine gave me a free ticket to a late regular season game in ’95, but, not being an M’s fan who followed the team, I had no idea until I got there and saw the pennants reflecting the current standings that used to line the rims separating the 100 & 200 levels (or, was it the 200 & 300 levels?) that they were actually in the playoff hunt. I’ve “paid attention ” to them over the years only in that they’ve been on local TV and/or are the only place in the entire PNW to catch an MLB game. I’ve been to more Mariner games in Los Angeles over the last 20 years than at Safeco Field/T-Mobile Park. The first of 2 Dodger games when they were in town earlier this month was the first Mariner home game I’d been to since 1999. That’s why the photo of that ALCS banner – if it’s real – caught my eye.
Thanks for taking us through the car wash so we know you’ve come out clean of Mariners cooties.
Hey, no problem!
Quit the last name bullshit and show some respect.
Does referring to Art by his last name make you feel big and powerful? Personally, I think it’s very distasteful and disrespectful.
Personally, it doesn’t matter to me what YOU think about it, seeing as you aren’t the person it’s directed at. If the person who actually does answer to that name had any issue with it, that’s obviously another discussion altogether. One that doesn’t actually involve you. And, you don’t actually know me at all to know to a certainty that it’s intended to be “distasteful and disrespectful”, do you?
Maybe it makes you “feel big and powerful” to finger point at someone else like that when you have no idea what the hell you’re talking about. See what I did there, Tim?
Oh look everyone, another version of 1coolguy. Or perhaps you are 1ofthesame.
Yeah, that must be it. I can’t ever fool a keyboard warrior.
Be a man, Tim, and practice what you preach about “respect”, rather than responding to me with comments that contain prohibited words and don’t get posted here.
I’m sorry Larry. I was wrong for how I worded that and I have no right to judge your motives. I mean that.
Perhaps the Mariners cannot force their players to get the vaccination, but they can make it a term of employment. Other companies have required vaccinations and schools are making vaccinations a requirement to enroll in classes. Then it is their choice, either change jobs or get the vaccination.
Personally, I could care less who gets the vaccination because I have gotten the vaccination, and I have confidence that science will come up with a new vaccination if a variant comes along that is resistant to the current vaccination. Let them die if that is what they want. I am tired of trying to convince stupid people to do the right thing. F**k them.
The MLBPA is the main reason that it could never be a condition of employment. That’s what unions do, bargain wages hours and conditions of employment.
True. The CBA doesn’t allow for mandatory vaccinations. Some private companies can make jabs a mandatory condition of employment, but I doubt any business that has union employees would be permitted.
Your exasperation with people who can’t accept scientific consensus in order to prevail against a pandemic is well understood.
A disease with a survival rate of 99.7 percent isn’t likely to cause the massive death you wish upon others. But keep hope alive.
I don’t wish to discount the concerns of the anti-vaxxers but there is nothing that’s been discovered as a vaccine side effect that even approaches the outcome of the infection of the full blown COVID Virus. Even the clotting issues attributed to the J & J vaccine was 10% of those who contracted the virus. As for me I’ve been caught & shot with no side effects except to know I’m now protected. The issue of free will withstanding, as others have stated vaccination can be made a requirement of employment, no government intrusion necessary. I feel our Seahawks can take pride in the outcomes of their COVID protocols. Thanks to Art for his take on this issue. On a side note I’ve read several articles that indicate the current vaccines seem to be effective against the recent variants.
Again, the CBA between owners and players precludes mandatory vaxxes.
But it doesn’t preclude offering consideration for your fellow humans.
Prize worthy, Mr Thiel. Thank you.
I bow in your northerly direction.
I personally know more than 20 people who have had the covid, all under 55, and they all report the same – A few days of having no energy, not eating much and staying in bed they are so tired. After 4-5 days they come out of it and after a week are back to normal.
I got vaccinated in February because I’m in my 60’s.
I have also not stopped flying in 2020 and 2021, but have worn my mask indoors and keep a distance when I can.
It will be interesting in a few years when there is a look-back on this pandemic to see just what age groups were genuinely affected, which were not, and what the economic and mental health damage the pandemic has wrought. Maybe then can a plan be considered based on experience.
As to those players who did not get vaccinated, if they were not in a situation where others were dependent upon them, ie their team, not being vaccinated and being 20 or 30 something just isn’t that big a deal, BUT since they are part of a team, they are clearly STUPID to not be vaccinated.
Maybe those not vaccinated should be sent down to single A ball to experience that lifestyle for awhile – I suspect they will be first in line for a shot!
I’m surprised and glad you accepted the science consensus. Among people I have known who were sick, the syndrome (lingering symptoms) is frequent. Not necessarily debilitating, but a ways from normal.
Superb column. The best on this subject I have read anywhere. Thank you.
Howie Stalwick (retired SportspressNW contributor)
You always have good judgment, Howie. Thanks.
I understand the shot can throw people for a loop (especially the second) and would be difficult to pitch that way BUT the players/team could have come up with a plan/strategy (maybe they did) so not everyone in the bullpen got the shot same day but staggered it out. As others have said, it’s just selfish to not have gotten it at this point being members of a team and being paid quite well to be a part of said team. Hopefully their little locked up vacation there in San Diego will convince at least a couple of the. To do the right thing.
Two pitchers returned Saturday (see updated story) after testing negative. The Mariners said they had a first shot, but apparently were kept out of action as a precaution.
Given the most recent science on vaccine efficacy, at some point, when there is sufficient quantity of vaccine available and there are no barriers to getting a shot(s) broadly across society, then perhaps the right attitude will be to shrug our shoulders and let natural selection do its thing.
I’ve heard (herd?) that theory. My apprehension is that we can’t predict whether vaccine-resistant mutations will develop faster than the great covid die-off.
Now about Covid I know people a lot of people who had it as well, and some of them died, didn’t seem to always care about age, but the virus seems good at finding latent underlying conditions, or in one case doing that weird Andromeda Strain instantaneous full system blood clotting thing in a college age kid. . So that’s a bad example when people see them come back fairly quickly. The people that don’t follow at least the measly precautions that were put in place, are just gamblers. Judging by behavior , a lot of them actually get a charge out of placing that bet. Many people get a rush out of playing chicken. Also in the minors you are dealing with a bunch of stupid kids, around other stupid kids. So go figure.
Far fewer are chewers these days. Same with smokers. MLB’s minor league rules forbid the use of tobacco products.
America was largely built by rebels, iconoclasts, and bullies. Being a contrarian is a part of the cultural DNA, even when it comes to individual and group safety. It likely will never change.
“What a week I’m having!”…..the movie, Splash….. and the Mariners.
Could proof of vaccination have bearing on trades? Those with two shots having greater value than those without? Bigger contracts for those with shots? Nah, dream on.
I don’t think so. A player can change his mind. A vaccination is not an injury.
Scorn is well deserved in these circumstances. Baseball players, and all professional athletes, are a priveleged lot who should be expected to behave in the best interests of their game/team. I thought they had rules in place requiring the vaccine to participate?
My ony disagreement is your statement that this science has been around for 100 years. MRNA vaccines are new and there really hasn’t been enough time to thoroughly understand them. There is anecdotal evidence that they may cause disruptions to menopausal cycles and possibly the baby growing eqipment employed exclusively by women. I have no such concerns and got vaccinated the day it was available to me. But based on those concerns I disagree with university policies that require the vaccine for all students. However the Mariners bullpen does not consist of 20-35 year old women so I don’t understand the reluctance. Their vaccinated teammates must be as upset as Servais
As mentioned elsewhere here, all sports with unionized players can’t order mandates without collectively bargaining for the right. Since all current CBAs were completed pre-pandemic, it’s a new frontier. My experiences with sports owners is to be careful in surrendering any rights to them.
My point was about the wide acceptance of vaccinations as a public health tool, not about this strain of coronavirus, although I did say the small risk was worth the reward in this case. It’s impossible to preclude all impacts to pre-existing conditions, including pregnancies, as well as rare infections in the vaccinated. But really, there is no choice but to accept the small risk, given the alternatives.
These are the moments when professional athletes can use their celebrity to set an example for the common good. The failure of so many Mariners players to do so has caused me to be far less interested in them as baseball players and as a team. Right now, I am spending my time and energy supporting those who are trying to do right by us all.
I wonder how prevalent is your response. If enough fans feel that way, pro and college teams have a bit of a problem. Since the teams are unable to enforce a mandate, they, not the resisting players, bear the brunt.
I imagine that mine is a minority view. And, I recognize that as an organization, the Mariners have been encouraging vaccinations. It’s a conundrum, but I have no interest in attending a game at Safeco or watching on TV. I can’t muster any enthusiasm for the players on the field. I’ll spend my time and discretionary money on those who choose to prioritize community safety over their sense of entitlement or willful ignorance.
Art, I have been wondering if the fans will come back? They have lived for more than a year without spending enormous amounts of dollars on tickets, parking, concessions, and, on the collegiate level, donations. Assuming the state is completely open, will we see 68,000 people at Husky Stadium in the fall? Will the Seahawks sell out their season? Will Seattle U men’s basketball draw their 999 capacity? How about Emerald Downs and the Storm? What’s your take?
It may take awhile, but my guess is most will return. Some will be genuinely put off by large crowds, but the costs and hassles of live attendance will be tolerated as they were before. Locally the Seahawks were the only regular sellouts, and the Sounders crowds of 40K could be spaced into the typically unused upper deck.
Is it Graveman who is sick? The lineup the Mariners put on the field today (Sunday) is less than AAA in quality.
Misinformation is a big part, too. Someone in my family is refusing the vaccine because they’ve heard it hasn’t been tested enough due to the rushed production, and is therefore not safe. (One Trump voter I heard on the radio said he was more afraid of the vaccine than the disease itself.)
And then there are some who would reject the Johnson & Johnson vaccine if it were the only one available, because apparently it was developed from stem cells from aborted fetuses. Add the intractability of opinions about abortion to the vaccine debate, and there’s not much you can do.
I just love this new-found trust of Big Pharma … from the very same people who’ve spent their entire lives screeching about Big Pharma.
You mean Big Pharma ISN’T our friend and that rushing something to market without FDA approval ISN’T altruism in action? Shocking. Guess that might explain why they’re exempt from liability lawsuits.
As I said above, doing the right thing THIS time is in their self-interest. Check the stock prices.
It is in their self-interest to stave off a pandemic. That’s all that’s needed to do the right thing.