Here we are again, a few months after life really shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, and it would appear (despite quite a few alarming spikes in positive cases around the country) that baseball is on its way back:
And funny enough, they even got themselves a sponsor:
I actually don’t know if that is funny or tacky, but I guess people still have to make money somehow. Ironically, I was thinking about camping, but then it seems that some idiot up in Shasta County decided to attend a house party during what should have been a shelter-in-place/social distancing period and infected a bunch of people, so that option is out the window. Meanwhile, the minor leagues are officially shut down, and look to be in trouble for a while as they don’t have the deep-pocketed sponsors that MLB can dig up on a whim, and the players who aren’t lucky enough to get invited to be on the 60-man pools will have to figure out what to do for the rest of this season. Some will have to rely on the piddling stipends that the clubs will hand out. Some might try to play in the independent leagues, although that comes with a bunch of risks to the player as well. And for the rest, their dreams of playing the game they love may be over.
Like in the overall society, where an investment in the people (through education, health care, and infrastructure) could bring forth a better tomorrow should enough of the folks in power care enough to do so, MLB could have secured a better long term future had they ponied up just a bit more funding to make sure their minor leaguers were taken care of, or that minor league franchises could survive just a bit longer. As it was (and you’ve seen these arguments on our Facebook page, or on your social media of choice), MLB and its owners faced off against the players in a protracted stalemate that led to this 60-game season that may ultimately satisfy no one. I am on record as saying that this is mostly the fault of MLB and the owners, and even if we suck at math, paying player salaries and helping Minor League Baseball weather the pandemic won’t come anywhere close to bankrupting the typical franchise (worth at least a billion dollars each). Perhaps it is because I’m just another peasant that I can’t fathom how one might spend all that money, but you have to wonder what they’re doing with that money if they’re getting government subsidies and multiple sponsorships, broadcast deals, and other revenue streams even without fans in the stands.
While I fear for the future (immediate and long-term) of baseball, it is exciting to know that players are coming back to Chicago to start their summer workouts to prepare for the shortened season. I don’t know if the season will go to completion. Already, there have been a number of players and staff testing positive for coronavirus, and even taking into account false positive rates, that is alarming for players in a sport where they can’t always distance themselves from each other. There are also a few players that have opted out of playing this season even with the forfeiture of their salaries. I am sure that there will be more positive tests and players opting out as the ramp up continues, but I do hope that the on-field staff stays healthy and safe and we can see this unique season go the distance.
If everything works out, I look forward to seeing David Ross take the reins as a first-year manager. I am curious to see how the runner on second base in extra innings rule works out, and how the National League adapts to the designated hitter rule (which is an inevitability since pitchers can’t/don’t care about hitting). I want to see rebounds from the talented core that won the World Series, and whose talent should not have just faded away so spectacularly.
Just like all those months ago, there is excitement as players report to camp. But it really isn’t the same, is it? If nothing else, let’s just enjoy it while it lasts.