News broke last week when Cleveland Indians starting pitchers Zach Plesac and Mike Clevinger broke team curfew, which has upset more than a few players on the team’s roster. The issue originated on August 7th while the team was in Chicago facing the White Sox. After the game, both Plesac and Clevinger vacated the hotel for dinner to parts unknown. Clevinger’s post-hotel destination is less clear but still in the same scope of violation.
According to ESPN, it was on August 9th when suspicions from teammates arose as other Indians players grew increasingly cautious of Plesac’s and Clevinger’s whereabouts from two days earlier. Soon after, Plesac was sent packing in the form of what can be construed as a team-issued suspension of sorts. After all, there are no minors to send anyone down to this year. Zach Plesac released a statement apologizing for his actions. Clevinger released a statement/video on Instagram attempting to explain and apologize for the incident. Unfortunately for him, his efforts only seemed to stoke the coals, further upsetting a number of his teammates.
The team meeting that occurred thereafter revealed some pent up emotions from a lot of the guys on the team, some of which less forgiving than others. While there were those who acknowledged the errors of the two starting pitchers and felt that bygones needed to be bygones, others on the roster were not done with the situation, a level of anger that would be difficult to argue with, and here is why.
COVID-19 is no myth, though many continue to ignore the effects and seriousness of it. Yes, testing has been unreliable at times and can be described as hit or miss. Nevertheless, the infectious disease has claimed the lives of tens of thousands within the U.S. and hundreds of thousands around the globe. There is one player on the Indians roster that has a very well-documented compromised immune system, who is none other than Carlos Carrasco. Cookie, as he is affectionately known, has most recently battled leukemia, a form of bone marrow cancer.
Keep Cookie in mind for just a moment as this piece intends to build up the seriousness of Plesac’s and Clevinger’s ignorance in frolicking after hours and then returning to the team. One of the most striking traits, if not the most of the coronavirus, is how quickly the disease is transmitted from one human to another. If a wildfire can be compared in the viral world, COVID-19 is an accurate resemblance on a microscopic level. With both insubordinate pitchers leaving, meeting with an unknown amount of individuals, the potential for catching and spreading the virus becomes unknown, which only adds to the level of danger.
Who did these guys hang out with? Where were those people prior to that evening? What other people did those people hang out with? It goes on and on. Considering the rate at which the infection spreads, the team could have been looking at a potential quarantine that would have made with the Cardinals went through look like a toddler’s timeout in the corner. Now incur Cookie’s existing fight in addition to the coronavirus and it could have easily put him in a life or death situation.
And just when it seemed that the team angst had been extinguished, in a most recent development, Indians reliever Oliver Perez warned that he would exercise his ability to opt-out of the season if both Plesac and Clevinger were to return to the team. If that isn’t a magnifying glass into how things went in the team meeting, then nothing is.
With that demand out there, the length of both Clevinger’s and Plesac’s absence from the team is undefined at this time. It is important to realize how destructive this behavior could have been. It manifested itself as a “I’m gonna do what I wanna do” mentality, a grand mark of selfishness to be sure, and could have morphed into a very grave situation with a rapidity that this disease has shown capable of.
It will take time for the anger and frustration to calm as a whole on this team. Some grudges may be held longer than others, but with the careless actions done and in the books, the Indians organization is lucky that the only fallout was that of emotions and not of the players’ health or their families.