An unknown virus wreaked havoc on MLB's general managers meetings this week in Scottsdale, Arizona. More than 30 of the 300 officials in attendance fell ill, Sports Illustrated's Stephanie Apstein reported Tuesday. By Wednesday, that number had grown, forcing the league to end the meetings a day early.
Usually, the gathering is viewed as the unofficial arrival of the offseason. MLB executives can often be expected to generate news as they discuss the league at large with peers and the media. But this year, Apstein suggested that personnel were more occupied with frequent trips to the restroom.
Almost every team reportedly had at least one case of the ailment. Even the league office was impacted, with around eight officials getting sick Tuesday. The Arizona Diamondbacks’ team doctors were reportedly tapped to assist in treating the infected.
Before it was confirmed to be a virus on Wednesday, attendees and organizers were scrambling to figure out what caused the rampant symptoms. MLB reportedly sent a memo to teams asking them to report illnesses to support tracking of the outbreak.
Food poisoning was considered, as Tuesday's lunch buffet was reportedly the only common meal among the sick staffers. The event was held at the Omni Montelucia Resort, where the league reportedly prohibited executives from serving themselves and asked food servers to wear masks and gloves on Wednesday.
Some people eventually became unwell without eating the food in question, so it seems more likely that an infectious norovirus spread in Scottsdale. The leading cause of vomiting and diarrhea in the United States, norovirus is caused by fecal particles and spreads quite easily. Individuals can get it from contaminated food, contact with someone who is infected or touching contaminated surfaces.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman reportedly saw four of his staff get sick. He told Sports Illustrated that he would be skipping the buffet Wednesday. “I’m getting a burger,” he reportedly said with a grin.
The abrupt ending to the general manager's meetings, which began Tuesday and were scheduled to conclude Thursday, led the agents meetings, scheduled to start Thursday, to be held on Zoom, according to Britt Ghiroli of The Athletic.
All 30 MLB teams will convene once again for the winter meetings, which are set to take place Dec. 4-7 in Nashville.
While the general managers meetings are a time to review rule changes and issues surrounding the sport, the winter meetings are typically when clubs and agents get specific about the granular details that come with building rosters. Hopefully, the next gathering won't see any similar stomach issues.