July 24, 2020
Melissa and I are back on track starting last night with the reopening of Major League Baseball. Two games were featured on the opening double header on ESPN2. The first game was a six-inning rain delay between the Yankees and the Nationals in Washington. The second game featured the Dodgers and the Giants in Los Angeles. While the East Coast game featured the starting pitchers in two of last year’s World Series games (1 and 5), the West Coast featured a standing rivalry of two of the best teams in the division for the last 60 years. The only problem was there are two teams I really do not like to watch, and one played in each game.
Even with the start of Baseball, a lot of discussion revolves around how to judge winners and losers of a 60-game season. Definitely an asterisk, but what else? To add to the confusion, there are substantial rule changes to allow the distancing required for play to begin. Aside from the Health and Safety changes and scheduling differences, five major changes are effective tonight. The National League is using the designated hitter for the first time and all extra innings start with a player on second base in both leagues. There is now a three-batter minimum for relief pitchers and anyone on the roster can come in to pitch, but all eligible players need to be on the roster. Finally, there are strict prohibitions against unsportsmanlike conduct. No empty benches in the covid-19 era.
The lack of fans is being handled by different clubs in different ways, as evidenced tonight. The Nationals are playing in a stadium with empty seats. The Dodgers took a different approach, allowing fans to purchase a cardboard virtual presence for $149 or $299 a seat depending on location. The purchase is tax deductible, with the proceeds going to fund some of the “most pressing problems facing Los Angeles with a mission to improve education, health care, homelessness, and social justice for all Angelenos.” The website has suggestions for how to take the best Dodger paraphernalia photo of yourself, and you can decide to take your dog to the park in the seat next to you.
THOUGHTS: I feel like this entire year is going to get an asterisk for all of us. This is the year with no Prom and limited or delayed graduation ceremonies. This is the year where we do not know how to run an election campaign or even make voting available for people. This is the year where we already have 4.11 million confirmed cases in the U.S. and nearly 145,000 deaths. This is the year where after a month of lock-down the streets exploded in protests and violence. And this is the year where discussions about racism being held dormant are resurfacing in hopeful ways. Change is coming and it starts with you.