Thoughts on a Season Delayed

Baseball has stopped completely thrice in my life.

The first time was the 1994 strike and I was too young to understand. As a seven year old in August of that year, I thought that baseball being canceled meant that someone from MLB–I don’t know who–would come to take all my baseball stuff. So, like any seven year old might do, I hid it. I piled my glove, a ball or two, and a teddy bear with a Yankees hat on into the closet, (not so) cleverly concealed. The point is that I was too young to understand the implications.

The second time was in September, 2001 after the 9/11 attacks. While I was certainly old enough to process, unlike during the strike, baseball seemed so distant and unimportant.

And now for a third time it’s stopping, thanks to a pandemic. Like it’s been the other two times, the reasoning is different. It’s similar to the post-9/11 stoppage in that safety is the main concern here. It’s absolutely the right choice to stop spring training and delay the start of the season. But with baseball being a bigger part of my life than it was at 7 or 14, I can’t help but know I’ll be feeling a void.

I consume baseball in so many forms, so rabidly, and have since college that I will certainly miss it while it’s gone. There’s not just the watching of it and the listening to it, but there’s the interaction that comes along with it. I write here. I tweet constantly about baseball, which helps me interact with like-minded friends and fans and others. It’s a wonderful communal experience (even if Yankee Twitter’s brain has been broken since, like, 2012; at least we’re all addled together, right?)

We haven’t heard much about when the season will start or what it’ll look like when it does return. But yesterday, there was talk about keeping the season to 162 games:

I get it, but I don’t think it’s going to work out. Obviously MLB didn’t plan on this when they went to an unbalanced, division-based schedule way back when, but this delay shows the flaw in that, to an extent. Rescheduling those games could be a nightmare. And that’s not to mention the idea of the season extending well into November. I won’t mind horribly if there’s baseball later in the year, but think of the deleterious effect that’ll have on players for the 2021 season. A shorter offseason would almost certainly mean more injuries in 2021. While it may complicate things like the schedule and fair competition among division rivals, it’s likely best in the long-term and the big picture to just play the season out as normal from where it starts.

Hopefully baseball’s absence is short, as that’ll mean that we get the games back quicker and, more importantly, things with COVID-19 are more under control. If even a few fewer people get sick because of MLB and other leagues shutting down, it’ll be worth the annoyance of not having something to watch every night at 7. Stay safe, everyone, and be well. Cover your cough, wash your hands.

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2 Comments

  1. I'm Not The Droids You're Looking For

    I think the bigger problem with trying to re-do the schedule to preserve the desired balance is that no one – not MLB, not anyone – knows when pre-season can resume, nor when the actual season will start. The projected dates for now are just placeholders just like they are for travel restrictions, school closings, and everything else. They have to have an ‘end date’ to the pauses in all these things, but really those announced end dates are nothing more than the absolute minimum amount of disruption. In all likelihood these dates will get pushed back on a rolling basis, perhaps dramatically so.

    I suppose they could re-do the schedule once they are absolutely positively sure the season can re-start. But my understanding is that it’s a long, convoluted process involving TV rights, travel requirements, etc. etc. etc. Like that game where you have to plan the seating arrangement at a dinner party but a million times more complex.

  2. Wayne S Kabak

    Matt, I always like to say that baseball is not a game, it’s a way of life.

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