Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal. (George Will)
Baseball is said to be America’s National Pastime. It’s a vehicle to pass (the) time. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Whether it’s pouring over last night’s boxscore before heading off to work, sitting on the back deck catching a few innings on the radio, or writing stories for your blog, baseball offers a way to help us relax and to be entertained.
President Trump encourages us to “Take it easy – relax” in the wake of the chaos and uncertainty we are experiencing.
He says this even as he declares a National Emergency and baseball is shut down for at least a month and most likely longer.
Another Time – Another Way
Two months following Pearl Harbor and a National Emergency declared by Franklin Roosevelt, on January 14, 1942, letter, baseball commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis requested formal guidance from the commander-in-chief. Should the season go on?
Only four days later, Roosevelt replied in a letter, “I honestly feel that it would be best for the country to keep baseball going.”
It was hardly baseball as usual, but the games did go on.
According to The Sports Encyclopedia: Baseball, the 16 major league teams sent 428 men to the armed forces, watering down much of the talent seen on the field.
Still, fans flocked to the ballpark and baseball enjoyed its fifth-highest attendance in 1942.
Where There’s Will, There’s A Way
That was then, and this is now. And while a World War has little in common with the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), there is at least one common thread shared by both.
America and its citizens are thrown off-base, and we need something to hold onto – something we know and have owned before. Something like baseball to bring us together again.
It can’t be the same brand of baseball we were expecting to see on March 26, Opening Day. But if MLB and the National Center For Disease Control put their heads together, surely a plan can emerge to enable our National Pastime to resume ASAP.
Baseball Will Need Modifications – A Few Ideas
- A reduced regular season schedule is in order. Games are to be scheduled for three days each week with an off-day between each game. This will allow for thorough cleaning of the venue between games.
- All ticket holders must have their temperature taken before entering the ballpark. Anyone showing signs of fever will be removed from the line and ushered to a designated ticket window where they can exchange their ticket for another game.If Europe can control its borders through “temperature control,” we should easily be able to do the same.
- All games must begin no later than 6 pm local time. This in anticipation of a national curfew most likely on the way shortly.
- Baseball is, by definition, a non-contact sport. But in the event that body to body contact is made during action on the field – such as a collision in the outfield or on a double-play ball at second base; all players must be removed from the game and provided with a test before a return to action is authorized.
- Completely revise the playoffs for 2020. The impetus of thought being the postseason is an absolute must – but it needs to begin and then end as soon as possible. Only Division winners qualify – no Wild Card teams. Best of nine, not seven, determines who reaches the World Series where another best of nine is played to determine this year’s champion.
The Will For Baseball Needs A Way
I’m not a doctor, only a fan of baseball. This is also not intended to be political.
And if some of the ideas floated above are absurd or unworkable, so be it. But surely, there is a way to get the major league baseball season back on track.
America needs its pastime – now more than ever as a “picker-upper” in the same way Mike Piazza and the Mets picked up the city of New York and the nation following 9/11.
Why not, at a minimum, open up talks between MLB and the Player’s Union to at least see if there are avenues that can lead to a resumption of a season that, as of today, looks like it may never have the chance to reawaken itself?