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MLB schedules some unwarranted surgeries

MLB pitchers are having Tommy John surgeries done in the middle of a PPE shortage and MLB needs to answer for why this is happening

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Cleveland Indians David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The world is in the middle of a terrible crisis. This much is a given, just as it is a given that how we recover from this crisis depends on how we react to the predicament we find ourselves facing.

Baseball, in all its forms, will be important once we come out of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the meantime baseball is a luxury that we both cannot afford or safely engage with. All of us are learning to live a life without baseball and finding out that for as important baseball is to the fabric of our normal lives it is far less important during the time of a crisis.

That doesn’t mean that baseball has no importance during this crisis. Personally, baseball remains an outlet for me. I continue to write about baseball here and at other sites because I love the sport and it is helping me to deal with the stress of my present life. Baseball taking on that level of importance is good and helpful. What is not helpful is baseball being placed on a pedestal it does not deserve in the current worldwide climate.

The Boston Red Sox announced last week that their ace, Chris Sale, will undergo Tommy John surgery during the shutdown, and this week the Mets announced the same regarding Noah Syndergaard.

These announcements, on the surface at least, are innocuous statements. Sure, it’s frustrating for Red Sox fans and Mets fans who will have to deal with a Sale/Thor-less rotation even after the COVID-19 crisis lessens and baseball is being played. It’s frustrating for any baseball fan when one of the best players in the world can’t stay healthy and on the field. Sale himself has to be frustrated with the way his career is presently going, and the flame-throwing Syndergaard is no stranger to elbow issues. Still, none of those frustrations compare to the frustration I feel knowing that these surgeries will use precious medical supplies in a time when those medical supplies are scarce.

For full disclosure, I am a Paramedic first and foremost. I, as well as countless other first responders, have been at the frontlines of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. As the days have gone by it has become increasingly clear that personal protective equipment (PPE) in the form of masks, respirators, gloves, gowns, etc. are a rapidly disappearing commodity.

To be blunt, the world was not prepared for a pandemic and essential healthcare supplies have been taxed beyond the breaking point. The shortage of PPE has reached a level where organizations are thankful when they get PPE from government stores that expired five, six, or ten years prior. There’s no guarantee that this PPE will work or not fall apart the moment it comes out of its package. However, when there is a shortage of essential medical supplies you learn to take what you can get.

That’s why it is particularly galling to hear that MLB players are still undergoing elective procedures. I’ve been told that I need to keep reusing the same surgical mask for patient after patient because if I follow actual precautionary guidelines and change masks with every patient there may not be any surgical masks for me to use in a week or so. Most healthcare professionals have been told this same thing. Yet, surgical centers across the nation continue to perform elective procedures, such as Sale’s, while using PPE that hospitals and first responders desperately need. It’s maddening that in a time of crisis MLB, Sale, and any other players undergoing elective procedures have chosen to spit in the face of those facing this crisis head-on.

Baseball will be back, sooner or later diamonds will have players on them again and actual games will be taking place in leagues the world over. When that happens I will watch the same as every other baseball fan. I can’t say I won’t carry a grudge from what is happening now. The stories are out there of healthcare professionals having to wear bandanas or use homemade masks. MLB and the players know about these stories, as do the surgical centers performing the procedures. Every single one of them is throwing away their ethics and refusing to help healthcare providers in their most desperate time of need. Baseball usually helps me relieve stress, but I can’t help but think that baseball’s return won’t help relieve the stress I’m currently feeling over the lack of ethics being displayed by the sport as a whole.