Baseball’s Gamble — Sorry, Pete, you’re still banned
Today, maybe (and for who knows how long), people will begin to feel (somewhat) normal. Well, semi-normal. Kinda-normal.
How about a brazen attempt to save face?
Which is how, in the pandemic of 2020, we have ended up with the Fractured Fairy Tales version of baseball (and other sports coming back in the un-United States). A 60-game version of a semblance of a season that may or (more than likely) won’t work.
Within the next week, basketball and hockey return as well, in limited fashion and NFL Training Camps are scheduled to be opened. I say scheduled because the League just scrapped the entire pre-season schedule.
Baseball. “The one constant through all the years as been base-ball,” goes the most famous line from the movie Field of Dreams. This sport, more than any other, has defined my life. It has shaped my life in ways big and small. Oh sure, I covered football and basketball, been to the World Cup and Paralympics (both as an athlete and a writer), but baseball is pure joy for me. I have missed it since March, when the country shut down due to the spread of the coronavirus.
The other night, on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, the host spoke with Tom Verducci, senior writer for Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports about the prospects of the MLB pulling off a fanless, 60-game, bastardized season. While touting the testing procedures the teams have undertaken, and the limited travel for most teams, problems have arisen and will arise.
The Canadian government has forbade the Blue Jays from playing home games at Rogers Centre and the team might have to play their entire season on the road. Plans to play in nearby Buffalo (where the team’s AAA franchise is located) or Dunedin, Florida where the Jays play spring training were scrapped as well as a proposed sharing of PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
“The next phase is going to be more difficult. I call it ‘the mobility phase.’ The schedule is based on regional rivalries and there is less travel, but there is travel. Once teams start moving the challenges become greater.”
When asked about forfeits or canceled games, Verducci took a different tack. “My concern going forward is what happens when your team is not involved in playing for a playoff spot. You’re already playing in a pandemic with no fans in the stands at all and a lot of the usual incentives just aren’t there.” He can see players “with secured contacts”…