Cubs Having Trouble Reaching 85% Vax Threshold, Minor Leaguers Volunteer En Masse at AZ Vax Site

I was thinking this morning about organizing a reunion of the 80’s R&B powerhouse Color Me Badd just to have them record a parody of their biggest hit title, “I Wanna Vax You Up.” Then I’d have them perform it just outside of Wrigley when the players and other Tier 1 staff are entering and exiting the ballpark until the organization finally reaches the 85% threshold for relaxed COVID protocols.

As dumb as that sounds, it doesn’t appear that mountains of scientific evidence are moving the needle — pun fully intended — at this point. Patrick Mooney reported for The Athletic that the Cubs “have encountered some hesitancy” when it comes to scheduling vaccinations for a group of roughly 100 people that includes players, coaches, trainers, and support staff.

“There’s been a couple eye-openers around baseball to start the season that should hit home,” David Ross said to the media. “This is still a very serious pandemic that we’re in. We have to continue to stay diligent in all that we do. We’re at the mercy of this thing a lot of the time. The more guys we can get vaccinated – really the goal is 100 percent, right? Let’s be honest, the goal should be 100 percent, so that’s what we’re shooting for.

“Again, each person has their own views and things, but we’re just continuing to try to educate and encourage them as much as we can to get vaccinated.”

One of those eye-openers was the Nationals postponing their entire opening weekend slate and then going moving ahead without a group of would-be regulars that includes former Cubs Kyle Schwarber and Jon Lester. Another is first base coach Craig Driver testing positive for COVID-19 and being forced to stay in Chicago for the current road trip. And though it feels like a lifetime ago at this point, pitching coach Tommy Hottovy suffered through an awful bout with the virus during last year’s shutdown.

There’s been a lot of talk about how getting vaccinated is a personal choice and that people need to “educate themselves” or whatever, but that’s really not an accurate way to look at it. This isn’t like choosing what color to paint your living room or establishing a new workout regimen at home. Vaccinations are very much a public safety issue and the illnesses caused by otherwise preventable viruses and diseases can be detrimental livelihoods. They can even be deadly.

Ross has been outspoken about his belief that vaccinations are a good thing, but the players haven’t been quite as open about it. That could be because the number of those who don’t want to be vaccinated is greater than, or at least very similar to, the number of those who’ve gotten it.

Kaycee Sogard, wife of the Cubs’ backup second baseman, apparently revealed her family’s thoughts on the vaccine in an Instagram post that ended up making the rounds on other social media platforms. This kind of stuff adds a little color to what might otherwise be a pretty simple conversation.

“Everybody has been super respectful with each other on both sides, if they want to get it or don’t want to get it or in a holding pattern or whatever,” David Bote said Saturday. “Having those conversations is really good and really healthy.

“Let’s get everything else away, political or anything like that. What is it? What can it do? Pros and cons then you have to make the best decision for you and your family. Each person is going to be different.”

As someone who’s gotten both doses of the Moderna vaccine and who had been looking forward to that opportunity for months prior, I find it very difficult to wrap my head around these conversations. For all we’ve heard over the years about Cubs’ clubhouse culture and being accountable to teammates, it sure sounds as though there are a bunch of individuals who aren’t willing to consider how their actions affect others.

I hope that changes soon.

The anti-vax mentality doesn’t seem to be nearly the same out in Mesa, where Cubs minor leaguers have been volunteering by the dozen at a local vaccination site in order to get their own shots. According to Rich Biesterfeld, who is very plugged in with the goings-on at camp, two buses of players volunteered Friday and more headed out on Saturday.

Perhaps having their season canceled entirely in 2020 and knowing they have neither the same leeway nor security as their big-league brethren, the minor leaguers don’t have to wrestle with the pseudo-philosophical debates. Whatever the reason, this is really good to see.

Most states have opened up their eligibility guidelines as vaccine supply continues to ramp up in order to meet and exceed demand, so just about everyone reading this should be able to register if you haven’t already. The side effects are mild, hardly worse than anything with the flu shot, and it only takes about 20 minutes when you include the 15-minute observation period following the injection.

If you’re skeptical want to do additional research, please seek out legitimate scientific sources and not some quack from IG who’s pushing some sort of goji berry smoothie as an alternative. Let’s all help each other out by getting vaccinated and getting back to whatever is going to be normal in the future. And hey, even if you don’t care about others and you just want to attend sports and concerts with full attendance for your own sake, selfishness is a perfectly acceptable motivator.

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