Upon seeing some elements of the 67 pages of health protocols to have a 2020 major league season, some readers here indicated why bother. Too much to try and overcome and it’s not worth it.
They must have thought, do players really need to sit and locker six feet apart? Do they need to throw baseballs out of play after several players touch them? Do they really need to stay in hotels and not go out on the road and do they really need to skip showering at the ballparks?
What about no more on-field high fives or hugs? What happens after a team wins? Does each player just individually run off the field. Remember how the outfielders would gather and jump together into one another? Clearly that is now out.
If we thought starting baseball under such conditions would look different, we probably underestimated just how much.
So why bother?
Well, can the game really survive an entire season not played? The last game that counted was Game 7 of the 2019 World Series, where Washington beat Houston 6-2 on Oct. 30. What if the sport doesn’t play another one that counts until late in March 2021?
It is one thing to not play due to health concerns. But clearly Major League Baseball officials are doing all they can to minimize the risk here. And of course we all take a risk going out in public right now. What place is 100 percent safe and we can be sure of it? Yep, this is not such a place.
The return of baseball, with all of these protocols in place, could indeed look very, very different. But it would still be the game we love with 95 mph fastballs and great catches and big hits and clutch hits and homers. We’d see saves and walk-off wins.
We’d see games without fans and there is no way around that right now. By the end of the year, maybe that changes in some way.
The return of an everyday sport like baseball could be a big step back to some normalcy for many fans. I’m sure reporters would be thrilled to have results and hitting streaks and manager decisions to question and write about.
We don’t need baseball like we need pharmacies and grocery stores and doctors, but we need baseball for other less important - but still important - reasons. Baseball has been there during very difficult times before and can be again.
The players and owners need to make the dollars work. If they cross every hurdle but that one and don’t have a season, some fans will never forgive them. Maybe many fans. I am still frustrated that their negotiation in March didn’t resolve all of this. How could they not have accounted for games without fans and how it would impact the sport? I consider that a big oversight by both owners and players. Not good.
If we get baseball back, we are just going to have to get used to the way the game looks during a global pandemic. If still could be great.