Dear Major League Baseball,
This year is awful enough and you’re making it worse.
Play ball already.
I get it. The coronavirus pandemic is a brutal bummer that’s fouled up just about everything in this country.
Whatever you do, someone is going to complain about it. That’s the nature of American discourse at this point.
That’s also the nature of baseball. We are fans who worry about the kind of chalk used to mark the first- and third-base lines. We don’t take well to new things.
But the thing we take to even less well is no baseball.
Surely it takes more than 26 years for you to forget the strike that cancelled the World Series and bred a year’s worth of some of the most visceral anger ever seen outside of an MMA cage.
You screwed over the Montreal Expos’ one great chance to make the World Series.
You may have ripped Don Mattingly’s best chance of winning the pennant out of the hands of the longtime New York Yankees first baseman.
Both teams had the best records in their leagues when the strike wrecked the summer.
That was pain you brought on yourselves. No true fan really cares how much the owners and players make. They care about the game.
They want to root, root, root for the home team, eat popcorn and ice cream, maybe throw 41 mph on the pitching machine under the stands.
They want to teach their kids how to keep score and why the outfielders and infielders move around when the big sluggers come up to bat.
They want to smell fresh-cut grass and stale domestic beer.
So in the pandemic, the fans can’t go to the parks. That stinks, but you better believe we would watch on TV.
Hell, we’ve been watching Korean baseball at 4 a.m.
Yesterday, we caught ourselves watching a video game competition on the internet.
Please, please, please play some games.
Nobody really cares how many games: 82, 114, 76 or 89.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Derrick Gould, who covers the Cardinals, tweeted this: “There are more reasons for there to be baseball than reasons for there not to be. I see more ways for MLB to return and play than ways it does not happen.”
That sounds positive. Derrick is a smart guy, even-handed, not the kind of guy who goes around throwing his opinions about like a lunatic. That’s what I do.
I started to feel a little swell in my chest that things were going to finally be OK.
But the old journalistic maxim is: “If your mother tells you she loves you, check it out.” (This kind of talk is probably why most of America hates us.)
Against my better judgement, I texted Michael Gartner, owner of the Iowa Cubs. I asked if he thought they would get any games in at Principal Park this season.
“I don’t know,” he wrote back. “I don’t think anyone knows.”
Look, baseball is entertainment. Of the problems this country faces right now from the pandemic to confronting racism, baseball should be low on the list.
That said, everybody — even the most ardent protester, even the most socially distanced first responder, even the most unemployed independent newsman — needs a break.
And baseball is the break we need.
No, I don’t want owners to go broke for short-term good tidings.
And, yes, I want players to be compensated for the risks they take playing in the middle of a pandemic.
I don’t know what the right number is for either of those problems.
What both players and owners should aim for is a July 4 start. It’s a Saturday. It’s the middle of summer. Fireworks at every stadium.
Everybody understands 2020 is screwed. It won’t be like other summers, especially if there’s only a few or no fans at the park.
Noted and accepted.
Now, play ball.
Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way telling stories about his city, state and nation. No more metrics or Google trends, he writes stories about people and life ignored by the oligarchy.
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