This is not to say “Japan is better than you are,” but rather to say that even where infections are 100 times less common than in the States, and nearly everyone wears a mask, the danger of COVID-19 is very real.
The SoftBank Hawks said Friday that a part-time worker at their home park, Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, has tested positive for COVID-19, while the Orix Buffaloes have also reported that a team official in his 40s has also tested positive.
The Hawks said the man, in his 20s, worked at the stadium but was not in close contact with anyone, which makes one wonder what kind of person works at a ballpark without coming into close contact with anyone else. Since we’ve seen that baseball players matter more than ordinary folks, the Hawks statement could mean that he did not come into contact with players or coaches.
The Buffaloes team official did not travel with the club this week to Sapporo and is resting at home without any sign of serious symptoms.
Although infections in Japan are roughly three times what they were when the government began announcing states of emergency in parts of the country, there has been no public discussion that more of the same is to follow. A total of five players within NPB have been known to test positive. NPB began its regular season on June 19, and so far has been fortunate to avoid infections. Players have been requested not to eat or drink when traveling and to refrain from eating out, period.
It’s not like NPB owners are any kind of geniuses. They have done what MLB owners have done, follow the lead of their government. When Japan’s government has waffled, the owners made bold stupid statements. When the government came out the next day, the owners said they weren’t interested in anything but safety and would do what they are told.
I understand there is a huge dynamic in America that says, “You aren’t the boss of me” and that wearing a mask has become a political touchstone. We don’t have the mask-as-political-statement thing going on in Japan, but we do have people who want to pretend it’s not dangerous and that socializing like normal is a test of their will power or something.
But it’s a smaller thing, and the government doesn’t encourage it, and still, Japan is entering a second phase much more dangerous than the first. Seeing what MLB is doing is horrifying.
Hearing the domino effect going on in MLB because the United States has made Japan’s lukewarm COVID-19 measures look like the wisdom of the ages, makes me wonder how long the U.S. season can last. At what point do the players say, “Nothing is worth it.”