The Rundown: Adjusting to Lost Sports Time, Cubs Working on Return Plans, MLB Will Offer Revised Player Pay Proposal Today

“We are always getting away from the present moment. Our mental existences, which are immaterial and have no dimensions, are passing along the Time-Dimension with a uniform velocity from the cradle to the grave.” – H.G. Wells

It’s odd how our body clocks and calendars work. I self-isolated starting March 9 and Friday was my first official day removed from quarantine, so I ventured out to enjoy dinner with friends at a restaurant in Mequon, WI. To me, and I don’t know if anybody else has felt something similar, it seemed like the calendar stopped when I sequestered myself.

I’m not talking about some kind of Groundhog Day event where every morning repeats itself, though at times I’ve had trouble escape that feeling, too. It just felt like one never-ending day, and I’m sure sports shutting down has played a big part in that. If you think about it, professional sports holds a significant role in time management and scheduling.

  • During football season, we focus on the upcoming week and plan accordingly. Who are we playing and what impact will that game have on the season?
  • In baseball, off days are usually Mondays and/or Thursdays and we look to the week ahead to determine things like which pitchers may get two starts or, for that matter, which opposing pitchers are slated to take the mound in the week ahead. The regular season lasts about 28 weeks and many of us adjust our schedules to catch as much baseball as possible. The off-days serve as the sport’s version of hump day.
  • The NBA and the NHL play a similar schedule. I haven’t followed either much lately, but back in the day the Blackhawks usually had home games on Wednesdays and Sundays, while the Bulls would host opponents on Tuesdays and Fridays. Of course there were plenty of exceptions, but, for the most part, you could count on that consistency and prepare accordingly.
  • Likewise, we have traditionally had the luxury of PGA tournaments every Thursday through Sunday, and NASCAR races every weekend from March through November.

Whether you go to the games or watch on TV, sports serve as our last bastion of appointment programming. Without them, time seems to have stopped, and it isn’t just the lack of games itself. There is so much pregame hype and postgame analysis that a three-hour event literally takes on a life of its own, even for the most insignificant tilts. Sports don’t just serve to occupy our time, they also play supporting roles in mood elevation or suppression; act as a babysitter of sorts (ask your significant other about that); provide a foundation for debate and social engagement; and often set the tone for the following day.

In other words, they play a big part in time continuum. We have now spent the better part of nearly three months in a sports deprivation chamber of sorts, absent the granularity that professional athletics provides to our daily lives.

Think about it this way: In baseball, managers can challenge plays, but the window to turn back time is incredibly small. Fans have recognized that any aggressive attempt to turn back the clock is just hubris, which is why game protests are usually more about grandstanding than earning an actual do-over. After a three-month absence, the game will return and it will look much different than we are accustomed to, so to call it a reboot seems insufficient, and declaring it a one-off seems short sighted. Many adjustments made to accommodate a short season could become fixtures in those ahead.

I was unsure of what to expect as I ventured to meet my friends on Friday evening, if there would be a sense of normalcy or anxiety, and how I and others might react to something as simple as another individual clearing his throat or haphazardly touching his face. We are going to be keenly aware of all the minutiae surrounding a new normal with sports as well.

Once I returned home, it felt like my calendar had auto-adjusted and March 9 had instantly become May 22. That feeling of lost time hasn’t escaped me, though. We live in a surreal world during strange times and our sensibilities have been dulled by lack of activity. We’ve not had sports to get us through that lack of edge, to balance our lives and schedules, or provide escape from the health and financial issues that relentlessly pound at our collective well-being.

By the looks of things, baseball’s return seems almost imminent. An adjustment will be necessary, for players and fans alike. But that loss of calendar stagnation will be nothing short of sweet relief.

Cubs News & Notes

Find Your Inner Hero

A 93-year-old woman requested more beer to help her through the pandemic and Coors Light delivered.

Apropos of Nothing

I’ll have more on it tomorrow, but last night I watched the Netflix documentary “The Battered Bastards of Baseball” and if you haven’t seen it, I cannot recommend it enough.

Odds & Sods

I have no words.

MLB News & Notes

MLB owners will present an official offer to resume play to the MLBPA today.

The issue of salaries in that offer may still be percentage-based.

Medical professionals say a July return is possible, but have plenty of concerns about how (or if) it should happen.

Japan’s professional baseball season, stalled because of the coronavirus pandemic, will deliver its first pitch on June 19 with no fans in attendance, league officials said Monday.

Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully is anxious for baseball to return.

Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon says players can be trusted to follow baseball’s social distancing rules in anticipation of paying this summer.

The Little League organization released a series of “best practices” guidelines this week that highlight how to create a safe playing environment whenever state and local authorities give youth sports in a given area the all-clear to restart. Little League canceled its 2020 World Series but remains hopeful a regular season may still be possible.

You’ve heard of the “Freshman 15?” According to the Yankees team physician, the COVID 15 is a similar problem and could result in injuries to players who rush to get back onto the field before getting back to playing shape.

A Twins minor league affiliate has offered use of its stadium through Airbnb for $1,500 per night.

Extra Innings

Some players are starting to ramp up their workouts in anticipation of a 2020 restart.

They Said It

  • “We’re going to be playing with the team we had in spring training (that) was performing so incredibly well, and with good health. We were ready to tee it up. I know David Ross had ’em fired up to play. And when that day comes, hopefully soon, we’ll get at it. I think everyone here — we expect to be playing in the postseason this year.” – Crane Kenney

Tuesday Walk Up Song

Chicken Fried by The Zac Brown Band – I got to play horseshoes and eat some KFC on Sunday. I hope all of you also had a great Memorial Day weekend.

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