Cancel (almost) Everything

On Tuesday, I said that Opening Day will not take place. At the time, it was mostly figurative, at least in America, and it seemed that while the big importance of Opening Day (capitalized) wouldn’t take place it seemed likely that the season would still start on time, albeit in a more depressing manner than usual thanks to the coronavirus.

Now, though, I think that we won’t even be seeing an opening day (not capitalized) as scheduled, much less an Opening Day. In fact, I think it would be malpractice to have it.

This realization came last night. I’m not sure when, but it was probably when a NBA game inexplicably postponed at the last second, a player tested positive for COVID19, and the entire season was suspended all in the space of what felt like a half-hour. Oh, and Tom Hanks announced he tested positive as well.

The average NBA arena holds between 15 and 20 thousand fans. Even the smallest MLB stadiums (Tropicana Field with tarps up, for example) holds thousands more people. Public Health experts in cities seem to differ on what level of crowd is too big, but even the largest estimates are around 1,000 people, or WAY WAY less than any major league stadium. Even a fan-less game may break the level of a safe gathering, given the amount of support staff, journalists, and security.

Yes, it is true that most COVID19 cases are minor, and even those in dangerous categories are more likely to live than not. But think of it this way: you are also more likely to get Christian Yelich out more often than not, but nobody would want to give him the opportunity to bat in the ninth against them.

So what I’m saying is: shut it down. Shut it all down. Unless it is either something¬† something essential or something that can be done entirely over television or the internet without any large amount of human interaction, it can wait.

It is said that baseball is life. That is true, but you also need life to have baseball, so there is no sense in putting anyone’s life at risk.

So shut it down. Cancel everything, and perhaps we can try again in a month or two.

Opening Day will not take place (Or: Baseball in the Time of Coronavirus)

Opening Day will not take place in 2020.

Oh, sure, an opening day (uncapitalized) will take place. The Major League Baseball season will take place, and there will be a day where the first games take place.

No, I’m talking about Opening Day (capitalized), the holiday where the long winter is finally truly banished on a joyous late-March-or-early-April day full of ace-on-ace pitching matchups, red-white-and-blue bunting, and a sense of hope for everyone. Yes, even the Orioles… at least for a couple of innings.

That Opening Day will not take place. You know the reason, if you’ve paid any attention to the news. I won’t say it here right now for at this point it would be redundant. The reason why Opening Day won’t take place, especially in places like Japan or Korea.

Opening Day might not happen in San Jose, depending on how long the crisis lasts. The A-ball Giants don’t have their home opener until April 17, but given the scary projections from epidemiologists, we have no idea what the world may be like on that day.

It is entirely possible that in the coming days and weeks Seattle, New York City, or other great cities may have the same rules then as San Jose has imposed now. Perhaps those may come before opening day, definitively cancelling Opening Day in those cities.

Ultimately, though, Opening Day has already been cancelled. For even if the gates are open and the people can come, the feelings of the day have been lost this year. For instead of hope, optimism, and rebirth from the long winter, there will instead be worry and fear.

Questions will race: Can I shake the hand of the person in the seat next to me, who I haven’t seen since last season? Did the person selling the hot dog wash their hands correctly? Should that old-timer who has been coming to games for as long as anyone can remember even be here?

Yes, Opening Day is cancelled, and we can only fathom when the long winter will truly end.

Some teams are going to go at the Astros, but it won’t be the Nationals

The endless inferno that is the Astros cheating scandal continues to burn with the fire of a thousand suns. In the past few days, most everyone has continued to pile on Houston, the Astros players, Commissioner Manfred, and the sport itself.

The games, meanwhile, rapidly approach: the first spring training games begin Friday, primarily against college teams. On Saturday, though, is when most teams get into real action against other MLB teams, with the headliner no doubt being the World Series rematch between Spring Training facility roomies Washington and Houston. It may well be the most anticipated first-game-of-spring in a decade or more, as the baseball world watches intently to see if it will be the first time that one of the 29 other teams take their vengeance upon the sinful sign-stealing ‘Stros.

It is possible, but I think most people are going to come away disappointed. Why? Here’s why:

  1. The Nationals, having defeated the Astros last October, have in some ways already gotten the best kind of revenge. If the Astros had won the World Series, it is quite likely that retaliation would be forthcoming… but of all the teams in the league, Washington probably has the least amount of beef.
  2. The Nationals will be contenders this year. Given the talk by the league that they are going to crack down on intentional HBP this season, it’s likely that the suspensions for pitchers will be longer than in the past. While it is certainly possible that some minor leaguer may go head-hunting looking to make a name for himself in front of his fellow ballplayers, we aren’t going to see Strasburg or Scherzer start their regular season on a suspension.
  3. Given that this is spring training we’re talking about, it is entirely possible that the people we’d expect to get beaned for the scandal won’t even be in the game long enough for it to happen, so unless if the first pitcher from the Nationals goes after Altuve, Bregman or the like, the opportunity will be gone fast.

So, in other words: baseball vigilante justice is coming… but I don’t think it will come on Saturday.

The Commissioner’s Trophy is stupid and should be replaced

There’s a lot of talk about how tone-deaf Commissioner Rob Manfred’s response to the Astros cheating scandal has been. Perhaps the apex of it was when, yesterday, he referred to the Commissioner’s Trophy AKA the World Series trophy as a “piece of metal.”

Imagine if Roger Goodell referred to the Lombardi Trophy as a “piece of metal,” or Gary Bettman called the Stanley Cup a “piece of metal.” Completely and totally tone-deaf way to treat what is your sport’s ultimate objective. Justin Turner rightfully pointed out how horrible a comment it was by saying that the thing devaluing the trophy right now that it has “commissioner” in the name.

However, the fact that Manfred would even dare to call the trophy a mere piece of metal speaks to something I said all the way back in 2012: the Commissioner’s Trophy is the worst of all major sports trophies.

It doesn’t have the history of the Stanley Cup. It doesn’t have iconic images of great stars weeping as they hold it. It isn’t portable and easily hoistable. It’s just… kind of there. It’s handed out because they need to have something to present.

So perhaps we should use Manfred’s horrible comments as an opportunity to get rid of the goddamn thing once and for all. Maybe bring back the Temple Cup, or reforge the Dauvray Cup, or come up with a brand new design.

And then maybe, once MLB has a better trophy, it’s own commissioner won’t just think of it as mere metal.

Continuum Classic: Jen Mac Ramos’ “Baseball Bonds”

As some of you active on Twitter may know, friend-of-the-Continuum Jen Mac Ramos’ family was involved in a horrific car accident this past weekend. A drunk driver struck their car, killing Jen’s husband Josh and leaving Jen with severe injuries. A GoFundMe site has been set up to help pay for Jen’s medical expenses and recovery, and anyone looking to donate is encouraged to head there as soon as possible.

I would not be able to claim that I know Jen, although I have often liked Jen’s Tweets and read Jen’s work, but In some way we can see a piece of Jen by reading the piece they contributed to the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon. Entitled “Baseball Bonds,” it was one of my favorite pieces of that inaugural (and ultimately only, as my real job forced me to cut back) Blogathon. You can find it with only minimal edits (removing things about the Blogathon and updating Jen’s bio to note this was written in 2016) after the jump:


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BIZARRE BASEBALL CULTURE PREVIEW

Aside

Well, due to some things getting in the way, I won’t have a Bizarre Baseball Culture up by tomorrow. Instead, it’ll be later in the week.

However, I am willing to give you a preview: It is a comic about Spider-Man and Ghost Rider (both conveniently in Toronto) helping a Blue Jays fan who has been hit by a drunk driver.

I’m hoping it’ll be up by the end of the week.