Baseball and Memorial Day have always had a symbiotic relationship and it feels a little odd that we are kicking off the symbolic start to summer without a full slate of games to look forward to. Yes, it is a time to remember servicemen and women who gave their lives for this country, which, if there is a silver lining to this pandemic, a more subdued weekend helps to put the true meaning of the holiday into larger focus.
📷 Ahead of Memorial Day, U.S. Army Old Guard soldiers are placing American flags in front of some of the more than 240,000 headstones of U.S. service members buried at Arlington National Cemetery. https://t.co/Vp4Wu7Z0Ty pic.twitter.com/Zp1OS4GjmJ
— ABC News (@ABC) May 22, 2020
I’m sure some of you will still have cookouts and the like, and as long as people are safe about gathering in groups, that’s okay. There just won’t be any talk about pennant races, All-Star voting, home run contests, and trade deadlines. You won’t be able to sneak inside to check on the Indianapolis 500 — that’s been postponed until August — and there won’t be any NHL or NBA playoffs to divert your attention from family debates.
NASCAR is running its traditional holiday weekend Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, without fans in attendance like last week’s race at Darlington, and Tiger Woods will pair with Peyton Manning to take on Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady in a charity golf event. That’s your live sports schedule for this weekend. It will be a far cry from Memorial Day weekends of the past.
When I was a kid, my father would host a barbecue for our relatives, friends, and neighbors, and despite cooking gobs of burgers, dogs, sausages, and steaks, there’d always be a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken within arm’s reach. I never really asked him why, and I suppose there’s nothing super revealing other than he just loved KFC, but it seemed odd to me that he wouldn’t eat his own cooking. I miss those gatherings a great deal.
Growing up, it always seemed like a Cubs-Cardinals series was a Memorial Day staple. My father was a Cubs fan, of course, but his brothers Lenny and Red were Cardinals fans. Likewise, my cousins Michael, Donald, Lenny and Carl were all Redbirds fans. It made for some interesting “discussions” whenever we got together for family events.
A big Canter family tradition every Memorial Day was the in-laws horseshoes and poker tournaments. While the kids were swimming in the pool and the wives worked as makeshift lifeguards while gossiping about the neighbors, my dad, his two brothers, and my cousin Michael would take on their brothers-in-law in a best-of-three shoes match with a couple hundred dollars at stake. Of course the Canters would win every year — I think my family members are all born with a horseshoes gene specific to our DNA — and then we’d clean up at night playing no-limit stud and draw.
I was too young to play poker, and I’m not a very good card player anyway, but I’d always find a couple dollars in lost change the mornings after. I can throw shoes with the best of them, though. Like I said, it’s in our blood, and this will be the first weekend since I was about 14 that I’m not throwing down somewhere, beer in one hand and bucket of KFC close by.
Anyway, I wish you all a safe and happy holiday weekend. If you go to a cemetery to visit a departed and loved veteran, keep in mind that most won’t let you bring flags because of the pandemic (which is absurd). I put a Cubs hat on my father’s grave each year, but that tradition is on temporary hold this year, too. Like me, I’m sure you’ll find celebrating in spirit only will suffice for now.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs Charities Community Fund, a McCormick Foundation endeavor, is committed to improving the lives of underserved youth, adults and families across Chicagoland by providing opportunities allowing them to thrive and succeed. Since inception (1990), more than $20 million has been granted through the fund, making a positive impact in the lives of thousands of disadvantaged children and families every year.
- Ian Happ could potentially thrive as the Cubs DH.
- Happ indicated a few weeks back that he fully endorses a universal designated hitter rule.
- Adding a knuckle-curve to his ever-growing repertoire was a game changer for Yu Darvish last season.
- Kris Bryant may be one of the most overvalued third baseman…in fantasy baseball.
- I’m really rooting for Jeremy Jeffress this year and hope he does well enough to stay in Chicago next season and beyond.
"It's just seeing everybody come together in one place, and just be happy for even just a couple moments. And just to understand that they're appreciated, that their work is not going unnoticed.”
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 22, 2020
Find Your Inner Hero
This is first and foremost a time to remember the military veterans who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Welcome Back Veterans was created to help servicemen and women make a successful transition back to civilian life while serving their greatest needs, and MLB and its 30 clubs will still join in the Memorial Day observations of this campaign.
Apropos of Nothing
Memorial Day traditionally marks the start of the summer movie season but the pandemic has put a kibosh on that. Here’s a six-pack of past holiday blockbusters to get you over the hump.
- Beverly Hills Cop
- Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
- The Hangover Part II (by the way, Paul Giamatti is an American treasure)
- Mission: Impossible
Odds & Sods
Ben Zobrist goes the extra mile in honor of America’s military history.
— Tennessee Smokies (@smokiesbaseball) May 21, 2020
MLB News & Notes
Major League Baseball and the Players Association are entering the second week of negotiations surrounding a return-to-play plan for the 2020 season. Here is where things stand at the moment.
The league is expected to present its economic proposal to players today.
The MLBPA is asking for more coronavirus testing protocols than the league has suggested.
The union is “livid” that the email regarding compensation negotiations was leaked to the press.
Under the league’s initial proposals, showers will be one of the many things banned at big league ballparks, and while waiting until one gets home to body cleanse after a game might not seem like a grand sacrifice, it’s weighing heavily on players’ minds.
MLB players who must travel internationally to return to the U.S. for a 2020 reboot will not face a mandatory two-week quarantine.
With empty stadiums in the foreseeable future, television is the main driver in bringing live sports back to the American public.
Rather than travel back to Florida, the Phillies seem intent on holding a second spring training in Philadelphia.
Once approved for this season, the universal DH is likely here to stay.
Little League should return at some point this summer, but with a vastly different look.
The Indians have managed to pull off the sneakiest, most random, and possibly weirdest game of I Spy. Cleveland’s social media team has apparently been sneaking photos of Nicolas Cage into their lineup graphics, hiding images of the actor in 39 Twitter posts last year.
Sammy Sosa gets patriotic after hitting his first Wrigley Field home run post-9/11.
They Said It
- “We want to do this together. We want to do it for the fans. We want to do it for the country. And we want to bring baseball back.” – Ian Happ
- “We’d all be willing to make sacrifices as far as risks away from the field. If that means limited exposure outside the field and in the hotel and at home, then that’s what it has to look like. [Players] will make sacrifices. [It’s] just the things inside the clubhouse we’d like to see [remain] intact as much as possible. … Not being in the indoor cage, using batting gloves, the sunflower seeds, and spitting thing. What if I got dirt in my mouth? They’re silly but I understand where they are coming from.” – Paul DeJong
Friday Walk Up Song
Rio by Duran Duran – few know this 1982 hit is a love letter penned to America by the band’s key members, Simon LeBon, John & Andy Taylor, and Nick Rhodes.