Major League Baseball is attempting to start up a season. That much we can agree on.
Is it a legitimate season?
Don’t get me started.
I respect most opinions. You won’t sell me on Caddyshack II or Gary Cherone fronting Van Halen. You won’t convince me that a plant-based burger is a burger and zoodles replicate a bowl of pasta. Or that pickleball is equal to or better than tennis. But I’ll accept most opinions because you’re entitled to them.
I understand the concept. Play as many games as humanly possible with fingers crossed and pray that 2021 is the polar opposite of everything we’re experiencing in the present.
I’m willing to see it through, but an asterisk should be worn like a medallion by this year’s champion. Sixty games with regional travel and a runner placed on second base in extra innings. Star players opting out.
The health risks are the same for everyone, but the roster impacts vary. There are divots in this supposed level playing field.
The Athletic recently ran a story detailing how protocols in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles County explain why certain members of the Nationals and Dodgers haven’t been cleared to report to summer training camp despite testing negative for COVID-19.
Everyone’s in the same boat? Not necessarily. And some of the leaks are harder to plug.
The Braves reportedly will sign veteran outfielder Yasiel Puig to replace Nick Markakis, who opted out. So did veteran starter Félix Hernández. First baseman Freddie Freeman tested positive for the virus and won’t be playing anytime soon, according to reports, and his condition scared Markakis right off the roster.
The Nationals wouldn’t have made the postseason last year with only 60 games to play. The “best” team won’t necessarily win it all this season. Maybe just the one getting off to the best start.
Kudos to that team, but there’s a difference.
There’s just too much about the 2020 season that feels fake, no matter how badly you’ve been craving the sport and are willing to overlook anything.
The World Series trophy should be made out of silicone and presented by Pamela Anderson.
Milli Vanilli should sing the National Anthem before Game 1.
Champagne should be removed from the clubhouse and replaced with sparkling cider.
The official beer of Major League Baseball should be O’Doul’s.
Ask yourself this question (knowing that I’ll respect the answer): If the Orioles make a miraculous run to the championship, will it feel the same to you as if it happened in 2014? Or in 2016, after Ubaldo Jiménez got the win and Zack Britton the save in the wild card game?
To tweak one of former manager Buck Showalter’s favorite sayings, don’t overlook a 60-game title while searching for a 162-game championship. But also, don’t try to convince me that they look the exact same.
(The second part is mine.)
The Orioles wouldn’t declare that their rebuilding efforts were done, that they were ready to be annual contenders. They’d enjoy the fluke and say they weren’t finished.
I want baseball this summer if it’s safe. But I’m not going to view it with the same set of eyes.
I’ll accept the outcome because this is the hand we’ve been dealt and I cover the sport for a living. Just don’t try to make me a convert when it comes to 2020 baseball or fake burgers.