• Steve Potter

7/6/2020 : Rules, Exceptions, Policies, Mistakes & Lessons - Our Phantom World


It’s been a week now since MLB clubs sent their initial “Player Pools” to the league office ... some clubs reported the lists to the public quickly ... others delayed ... some even as much as a day later. There seemingly was no standard on reporting the lists but rather just on submitting them.


Over the course of this past week the communication of the “Covid 19” effect on the “player pool” was even more confusing. Baseball has traditionally required “official transactions” when a player is moved from active to inactive status ... most normally done via the “injury list”. Albeit the intended use of the “injury” list was to report disabled players it’s actual use has been more expansive ... particularly in the minor leagues where it’s often referred to internally amongst players and teams as the “phantom list” when players are placed on it ( sometimes even unbeknownst to them ) just to free up an active roster spot for another player even though those placed on it aren’t actually injured ( a physical injury is listed however ). Those who try to follow minor league injury and roster transactions often go bonkers trying to ascertain “real” vs “phantom”.


In these cases it’s used as a way to keep players with the squad. It’s certainly difficult for players to continually go on and off the “phantom list” as many often do ... there are 10 to 15 day mandated time period assignments when placed on it ... staying at the ready is both a mental and physical impediment and struggle.


This past week four Phillies on the initial player pool were placed on the “injured list” and reported publicly on the MLB website but without a physical injury also listed 🤦‍♂️. Since we are engulfed in a pandemic it wasn’t difficult to ascertain that those listed were likely impacted in some way by the virus. Before the season restart began MLB issued a 113 page rule set which included how to handle transactions ... I have a copy ... it’s not an easy read 🥴.


Seemingly the reporting of those four on the MLB site as “injured” was a mistake ... COVID related transactions were not intended to be listed as “injuries” and also not intended to be made public knowledge. Subsequently two Phillies players were added to the practice pool ... their names are not shown on the public transactions list as far as I can ascertain ... seemingly players can be added to the player pool as replacements to those disabled for “COVID” associated reasons without being subject to the rules established for “normal” transactions within the player pool ... they are in essence “phantom” additions 🤔😳.


So ... later in the week it was reported that three other players haven’t been at practices yet ... seems the earlier “injury list” mistake was remedied as no transaction was posted however their absence didn’t go unnoticed. Some reporting outlets stated they were on the COVID list according to “sources.” Awkward to say the least ...


Every person in our country has a right to medical privacy ... retro fitting the traditional baseball transactions reporting regarding rosters almost makes that impossible ... at least in regards to COVID speculation. It’s certainly new territory ...


In today’s world of instant media where most everyone has opportunities to present “news” it’s more than often blurred with “opinion” in a continual manner and ascertaining fact from fiction is left to the reader. Elections have been interfered, guilt or innocence of crimes are judged instantaneously by the public court of opinion and reputations have been altered ... even when social media platforms attempt to clarify fact from fiction there are “on line” reactions ... the challenges of maintaining privacy when we live in such a public and open forum are overwhelming.


So ... traditionalist reporters can certainly and likely should attempt to maintain privacy parameters ... it’s an admirable approach but more often than not a lost cause primarily due to our world of social exposure and conjecture which is taken as the truth by many. I am often conflicted ( even though I’m not a professional reporter ) as to when I disclose baseball transactional information on this blog that hasn’t been reported elsewhere ... my general rule of thumb is to wait till a pro reporter discloses it.


It’s the world we live in ... phantom lists, self guided truths and all 🤪. Hopefully most of us aknowledge our mistakes and refer to them going forward as lessons learned for our future actions ... that’s a good policy in my book 🤓.


Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️


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