In yesterday’s Rundown I offered a pretty grim prediction in which I believe baseball will be unable to restart its 2020 season. There are so many obstacles, known and unknown, that it seems impossible to me that some type of season can be played, though many still hold on to the hope a revival is coming.
But here’s the good news: Baseball has been here before and survived. The game has outlasted two World Wars, the Great Depression, the events of 9/11, numerous work stoppages, and even the last devastating global pandemic in 1918.
If you’re too young to remember that ’18 season, baseball ended a month early because of concerns over the Spanish Flu and the Cubs won the NL pennant with a record of 84-58, earning entry into an early September World Series against Babe Ruth and the Red Sox. Ruth was still a pitcher then and he started and won two games for Boston. The Great Bambino was working on a 29-inning postseason scoreless streak dating back to 1917 before the Cubs plated two runners in the 8th inning of Game 4. The Red Sox won the series in six games.
— Mark Blaudschun (@blauds) March 26, 2020
If baseball does return, possibly with a season that extends well into fall, other sports are likely to follow the lead MLB will set. Imagine post-Labor Day weekends that include baseball, professional and college football, the NBA and NHL, the Boston Marathon, the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont, and The Masters. You can add the WNBA, LPGA events, tennis, and NASCAR to the mix, too, all crammed into the final quarter of 2020. Talk about sports overload!
Ed. note: Mike forgot the Indy 500 and I’m sour.
Now imagine all of those events being held in front of empty stands.
Have you thought about how sporting events and other crowd-friendly environments may look after COVID-19? Temperature checks at stadiums could be mandatory as infrared cameras might be in place to identify fans considered “too hot” to be allowed into packed stadiums. Have you had your blood tested? Make sure you carry a medical card or bracelet that clears you for entry. Maybe (hopefully not) we’ll be required to have a microchip inserted into our bodies so that we can be biometrically scanned for infectious diseases.
If all of that seems overly invasive, that’s because it is. When lives are at stake or when deadly diseases spread easily, seismic shifts to our daily routines become the norm rather than the exception. It’s an inconvenience at its outset, but eventually we think little or nothing of the extra safety measures. Humans are resilient by nature and those who initially refuse to adapt eventually come around. I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to pass on a ticket to a major sporting event because I am required to go through a temperature screening to gain entry.
Air travel after 9/11 seemed to many to be the biggest regulatory pain in the ass, but we adjusted, people eventually traveled in record numbers, and we’ll all adjust to this. Some will object to and abstain from the “new normal,” but that means non-season ticket holders and average Joes will find great deals in after-market ticket sales.
Cubs News & Notes
- Say what you will about Tom Ricketts, but he stepped up to the plate yesterday, committing paychecks through at least the end of May Cubs employees. Aside from coaches and clubhouse staff, the list includes 110 members in baseball operations, 237 in business operations, and another 49 employees with Marquee 360, an agency that focuses on partnerships, consulting, and events in Wrigleyville (subscription to The Athletic required).
- The Cubs will offer 5% interest to season ticket holders on funds held for reserved seats.
- Willson Contreras offered a glimpse into his home workout routine in case you’d like to grow up to be a big league catcher.
- With organizational depth that goes well beyond Contreras, Victor Caratini, and Miguel Amaya, the Cubs are the envy of baseball.
- Jordan Bastian of MLB.com has personally curated 10 Cubs games from the 2018 and ’19 seasons that are worth re-watching, including the masterpiece from last May when Kyle Hendricks threw a complete game shutout against the Cardinals on just 81 pitches.
- My favorite game on Bastian’s list is the Cubs’ 14-10 win over the Braves on 4/14/18. The Cubs scored nine runs in the 8th inning that day in what remains one of baseball’s most unlikely rallies, particularly because playing conditions were so awful.
- Mental challenges are a big part of dealing with the novel coronavirus for Cubs players during the countrywide quarantine. We can all relate, am I right?
Find Your Inner Hero
This will be a new section for the remainder of the pandemic, one that focuses on non-baseball heroes during a very uncertain time of our lives. Kicking it off today, some U.S. residents are doing something really cool for food deprived families. Giving can be so infectious and so is good news. I may actually continue this feature when the world normalizes.
Odds & Sods
Here’s a pretty cool graphic that will make you miss baseball just a little bit more.
This is mind-blowing ? pic.twitter.com/dZBU1Nv8G7
— Ballplayer City (@BallplayerCity) April 21, 2020
MLB News & Notes
The Yankees are among a handful of teams that have not promised to continue to pay their employees during baseball’s hiatus.
Álex Rodríguez and Jennifer Lopez are seeking money from investors in an attempt to buy the New York Mets. Those Mets-Marlins games will take on a whole new level of significance with Derek Jeter running things in Miami.
Jeter will indefinitely forego his salary in an effort to keep other Marlins employees paid. The former Yankees shortstop earns $5 million per year.
White Sox team doctor Nik Verma believes that we will see a baseball season this year. “You know, we’ll take the fan portion out of it,” Verma said, “because that’s going to be a much bigger decision and probably will be delayed. But if you think about just playing baseball, it’s really no different than trying to open up, for example, our medical practice.”
In addition to locations in Arizona and Florida, Arlington Stadium in Texas is being considered as a potential hub that MLB could use to reboot its season.
The Korean Baseball Organization announced that it will reopen its season on May 5.
We all knew this was coming. Eat the rich.
BREAKING: MLB, all 30 teams, StubHub, Ticketmaster sued over failure to provide ticket refunds: https://t.co/IEahFyIj2Q
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) April 21, 2020
They Said It
- “It’s important to understand that people function best when they’re autonomous [or personally control what they can], when they feel competent and feel relatedness. As a result, we don’t have an avenue to display our competence, and no one feels related; we’re not getting that normal human contact we’re used to. These are the concerns that I think about.” – John Baker
- “This has been very strange on the baseball side of things. Leaving spring training when we did with still about 10 or 12 days left . . . you [saw] the players getting into shape and then five weeks into it, to see that come to a halt and then have everybody basically leave and go home with nothing on the calendar to restart or Opening Day, I mean, it’s really unreal.” – Ryne Sandberg
Tuesday Walk Up Song
Bad by U2 live from The Stadio Olimpico in Rome – Bono has always been a calming voice of reason when we are going through troubled times, and frankly, I’m quite surprised we’ve heard very little from the enigmatic frontman during this pandemic. We could really use his voice right about now, urging us all to remain strong, globally united, and to stay the course.