I have a thought to share which is the antithesis of how I normally think, “Baseball season opens tomorrow and I don’t care.” Since I was a wee lad, I have loved baseball. I think I was learning the rules of the game the same time I was learning to walk. Summer was all about baseball; there were games to watch, games to play, cards to collect, arguments to be had and hats to be worn. Baseball meant winter was over and it was time to watch, listen and pay attention to the only sport that really mattered.
But this year, I have no interest in Major League Baseball. The Royals open the campaign tomorrow night and I won’t watch. They play 60 times during the next couple of months and unless the glacier in my heart totally melts, I fully intend to miss all 60 games. And it is a shame, because this could have been the year America rediscovered baseball and why for more than 150 years, fans have adored it.
Obviously the COVID-19 restrictions which took effect in March wiped out spring training. But almost immediately, owners and the baseball union began discussions about how to rewrite the calendar. People were stuck in their homes, bored, lacking entertainment, looking for some kind of diversion. Baseball could have been the answer. With an annual income approaching the gross domestic product of many countries, baseball had the wherwithal to come up with a plan to protect the players and get the games going.
Frankly, had they figured out a way to get 100 to 120 games in books, I think TV audiences could have surpassed some of the all-time highs for sports.
But then baseball did what baseball does, it stopped thinking about its fans and started getting greedy. Through the years there have been labor disputes and in some cases the owners were at fault, in others the players union was unreasonable.
During the spring and early summer of 2020, people wanted to watch some sports. While some baseball officials looked for ways to play, others primarily the players’ union, looked at the unusual circumstances as a way to try and get concessions to issues which had nothing to do with a Coronavirus and not even anything to do with 2020.
I listened as the Royals’ player representative spoke about doing what was best for the future of the game and I was saddened because no one seemed to care about what was best for the present of American sports fans, or even the national psyche. America really needed baseball and its players decided they didn’t care.
For two months, baseball could have been the center of the sports universe. Maybe people wouldn’t have been so angry or bitter had they had something got to look forward to.
But instead of playing, owners were busy negotiating a new huge TV contract, which doesn’t even take affect for a couple years. And players bemoaned how unfair the whole system is to them. So now, after soccer and basketball have ramped up their reasons, baseball comes around with this silly 60-game season, with no respect to leagues or traditions just simply a hodge-podge of dorky rules to say they were playing.
Only once in the official rulebook of baseball is there the term “making a travesty of the game” used. It applies to stealing bases in reverse order in an attempt to confuse the defense. In my book, the 2020 baseball season makes a travesty of the game. A 60-game schedule is a joke. There are many youth teams that play more than 60 games in a season. Some states allow high school teams 60 games. Part of the psychology of baseball is the physical and mental challenges the long season offers. None of that occurs.
To top it off, some players have chosen not to play, including one who bemoaned he had a pregnant wife at home and couldn’t risk bringing COVID-19 back to her. I am sure there are many grocery stores employees, retail merchants, truck drivers, restaurant personnel and an assortment of other vital workers who also share such a concern. But they aren’t making $30 million a year so they don’t have a choice about what they can do or not do.
Once the year passed the Fourth of July, the best thing the baseball powers could have done was call the whole thing quits. It would have been an anomaly to not have a season, but even no baseball would have been preferable to this bastard season they are trying to pull off. Baseball starts tomorrow, I don’t care. If they aren’t careful, I may never care again.