On the most-recent episode of the Crossed Up podcast, our Bob Wankel (aka Bobby Wanks) speculated that maybe only half of the Philadelphia Phillies had received the COVID-19 vaccine.
Said Bob at the time:
“It’s really interesting to me, and I think the Phillies, if you’re looking at just the 25-man roster, I would venture a guess to say that we’re not knocking on the door at 85%, we’re talking probably more like 50%. Now, that’s purely speculation on my end, but we probably do this, you can go down the roster and almost guess (who has it and who doesn’t), you know?”
This was right around the time that Aaron Nola was coming off the COVID list and said that he had no plans to get vaccinated because it was a “personal choice.” He’s scheduled to pitch tonight, Tuesday.
So here comes Marcus Hayes in the Philadelphia Inquirer, reporting, via sources, that the Phillies’ vaccination rate is indeed hovering around 50%:
The Phillies’ anti-vaccine issue is much more than a personal choice. It’s a cultural phenomenon that starts at the very top, and doesn’t end with No. 1 pitcher Aaron Nola. Two sources connected to Phillies ownership and management have said in the past weeks that about half of the 26 players on the current roster have refused the vaccine, a number confirmed by team and league sources Sunday.
This vaccine resistance has left the ownership group and the management team terrified and exasperated. The playoffs are within reach, but a COVID-19 shutdown hovers over the season like the sword of Damocles.
The sword of Damocles? Now that is a nice reference right there. A deep cut. Get it? A deep cut?
Anyway, if you’re not a parable dork like us writers, Marcus is basically saying that the COVID-19 threat is hovering overhead, like a looming danger to derail the season. That’s the short version to explain it.
At this point, then, it gets a little tricky. We could give some opinion on the COVID-19 vaccine that will surely piss off the portion of people who disagree with it. That’s kind of a dead-end road, which leads to the same cul-de-sac as Colin Kaepernick and LeBron James and China and every other political/sport crossover of the past five years.
The bottom line, however, is that the personal choice of Nola and these other Phillies players does, indeed, put their team in a difficult position. This is a squad that clawed back to 47-45 and now sits 2.5 games behind the Mets for the division lead. If they continue to play well and push for a playoff spot, then a bunch of dudes again go on the COVID list and they lose some games, how do you explain that? Unfortunately, the reality is that we live in a society where personal choices do not exist within a singular vacuum and instead affect the people around us, whether we want to admit it or not. And if Aaron Nola or these other guys’ personal choice cause them to again be unavailable for their team, then why wouldn’t the other players, fans, and the ownership group be annoyed by that?