Folks, I have some good news: the Yankees still exist! It is difficult to remember that these days, but it’s true nonetheless. We got a good reminder of that today as Aaron Boone held a conference call with reporters. Updates about the Yankees! It was a nice memory of the Before Times and I greatly appreciated it. A true breath of fresh air.
There was even enough to justify throwing up a quick review of the biggest news and developments, so let’s get right to it.
The Big Story: Baseball as a Distraction
Before we get to the substantive on-the-field updates, I want to briefly expound on something Aaron Boone said today. It’s a bit more of a bird’s-eye view on the role of sports in the wake of national trauma. Here’s what Boone said, per Bryan Hoch: “Our job, when we come back, ultimately is going to be bigger than the game and all of us as well. As we’ve seen throughout time, sports can play a role in the healing as a diversion, a distraction. A sense of normalcy.”
This is a poignant point from Boone. I’ve seen a few people predict that the pandemic is going to lessen the role of sports in American life. The argument goes that many Americans, once they’ve adjusted to the post-sports world, will do something else with their time when sports return. Think of it like quitting smoking cold turkey. I, however, do not buy that one bit. If anything, the opposite is true: when this is all over, I expect our interest in sports to increase, not decrease.
That’s because sports, baseball in particular, have always held a unique role in times of crisis. Soldiers in the American Civil War often played baseball during downtime, which helped spread the game and serve as a reunification tool after the war ended. During the First World War in France, the American military built 77 baseball fields which collectively hosted 200 games a day. (“You can’t get enough baseballs to go around here,” said a report from the front lines in 1918.) During the Second World War, many folks debated whether or not baseball should continue during the war. Two-thirds of the country thought it should, as did President Franklin Roosevelt. He famously argued that “it would be best for the country if baseball kept going” in his “Green Light Letter” to Commissioner Landis. I could go on and on, right on up to the post-9/11 era.
All of this is to say that Boone is right. I would even argue that the moment many Americans took COVID-19 seriously was when the NBA suspended its season. Sports are that important to us, and baseball has an especially rich history in this regard. It has historically soothed national nerves and provided a welcome respite from the “regular” world for more than 170 years. It will have much the same effect once it starts up again in 2020. I just hope we don’t get too nostalgic and start up the engine before it is safe for us to do so.
With that out of the way, let’s get to the baseball updates. Boone actually said quite a bit today. And that’s in addition to this morning’s ESPN report, which I touched on fully here. A full day of baseball news! How exciting. Without further adieu:
- Aaron Hicks officially began his throwing program, which is good news. (James Wagner) Hicks is aiming for a June return – just like Didi Gregorius last year – and this puts him on that timeline. Hey, he might even be ready for Opening Day!
- Giancarlo Stanton is “over the hump” with his injury. (James Wagner) This comes after last week’s update in which Boone said Stanton would “probably” be ready for Spring Training games, so this is good. It’s as expected, really – it was just a calf strain. It’s nice to hear that a calf strain is just that, for once.
- Aaron Judge is still “in the healing phase” of his broken rib and will be evaluated again in a few days. (Brendan Kuty) While it’s “hard to say”, the Yankees believe that his collapsed lung could date back to that September dive against the Angels. (Kristie Ackert) 2019 really was just a cursed year, guys.
- There are still 8-10 Yankees working out at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. (James Wagner) We don’t know who they are yet, but I’d be willing to bet a decent amount of money that Aaron Judge is one of them.
- The Yankees’ MiLB self-isolation period ends tonight at midnight. (James Wagner) Remember, two MiLB players in the system tested positive for COVID-19. That player will remain in isolation a bit longer, and players from Venezuela and the Dominican Republic will remain in Tampa due to travel restrictions. (James Wagner)
- Aaron Boone will be playing catch with Gerrit Cole – they’re neighbors – again today. (Lindsey Adler) Cole, for his part, has been “spending nine hours on the phone talking about potential future baseball” to pass the time each day. (Amy Cole)
- Finally, Scott Boras created a plan for a 162-game season that would have the World Series end around Christmas, which would be great for us as fans but probably bad for everyone else. (Los Angeles Times)
And that’s the news, folks. Felt good to get one of these up here again. Stay safe, everyone, and have a great night.