Baseball is back, maybe, and forgive me if I don’t slip into a pair of spikes, jump in the air and click the heels.
With all that has transpired, the owners and players arguing over this and that, delaying what could have been resolved long ago, I had reached the same point as many fans: “Who cares?”
For me, a life-long baseball junkie and my lifeline for 48 years, that is saying more than a mouth full of smokeless tobacco.
There are those who are saying, “Well, this baseball is better than no baseball at all.”
No, it isn’t. Sixty games does not a season make. The cliche is that baseball is a marathon, not a sprint. This year it is a 100-yard dash.
For those who believe the baseball season is too long and needs shortened, you get your wish this season.
Sixty games? Maybe.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 is still spreading its ugliness and could play havoc with baseball’s plans.
With the pandemic spiking in so many venues, like Florida, California and Texas, what happens if some states start closing up shop again? Can baseball be played?
What happens if the virus sweeps through a team, as it has the Philadelphia Phillies? Would that team be able to field a team without dipping deep into its already depleted minor league system? Each team will have expanded rosters, including a taxi squad.
How about Toronto? The Canadian government is advising against travel outside the country?
»RELATED: Minor league season still up in the air
Under this format, the World Series champion Washington Nationals wouldn’t even have made the playoffs. They began last season 19-31.
The Seattle Mariners would have loved it last season. They started 13-5. They finished last.
And they are dumping the dreaded designated hitter on the National League. Even worse, a runner will be placed on second base to start the 10th inning of a tie game. Baseball doesn’t like long extra-inning games.
There will be no fans and the cheatin’ Houston Astros are saying, “Thank you, Lord.” They won’t have to hear the venom fans were expected to aim at them.
Of those 60 games, 40 will be divisional games, 10 each for the Cincinnati Reds against each National League Central team. And there will be 20 interleague games for all teams, with the NL Central playing the AL Central, NL East vs. AL East and NL West vs. AL West, to curtail extensive travel.
Four of Cincinnati’s 20 interleague games will be against the Cleveland Indians, considered the Reds’ interleague rival.
The postseason, which is all owners really care about, remains the same. During negotiations the owners offered to expand the playoffs to more teams.
But when those talks settled nothing, commissioner Rob Manfred implemented the 60-game schedule and the owners cut the playoff teams back to the normal five teams in each league — the three division winners and two wild card teams.
In the end, the big question is why both sides were so stubborn for six weeks and nothing was accomplished, nothing was resolved.
Well, baseball is back, if you want to call it that. In the end, after the truncated season is over, all that will be remembered about it is that the owners and players dragged the game through a quagmire and did nothing more than alienate its fan base.
While the nation continues to suffer COVID-19 deaths, with medical experts predicting 200,000 deaths, and about 40 million Americans unemployed, baseball buried its head for nearly four months, mostly arguing about money.
Now it is coming back, asking fans, “Forgive us and welcome us back.” It is a welcome mat that many fans might avoid and baseball can blame nobody but itself.
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