The Rundown: Pandemic Will Challenge 2020 Reboot, Cubs Announce Summer Camp Roster, Bryzzo Will Kickstart Offense

Sometimes we tend to ignore all the bad news so that we can keep our paths free of distractions or roadblocks. Over the weekend it was announced that 17 states are pausing or rolling back efforts to reopen, yet MLB is going to make every attempt at playing its 2020 season. I’m shocked that the topic of trying to play baseball isn’t more polarizing, but then again, the dissident faction that continues to chastise civilians for not wearing facemasks seems willing to give professional athletes a hall pass on a number of suggested restrictions.

I’m not personally opposed to wearing a mask, I just don’t like someone telling me to wear one who occasionally “forgets” to practice the suggested protocol.

It may be hard to think of players as indentured servants because of all the money involved in the sport, but is restarting the season and effectively using up to 1,800 players as lab animals really a move to appease fans and help the country soothe some of its ongoing tumult? The more I think about it, the more I tend to believe this is all about protecting the financial interests of 30 landowners who may be afraid that, when it comes to fans, absence makes the heart wander.

It’s not just about putting butts in seats, either. Merchandise sales are probably down immensely, and the fact that most MLB websites are actively pushing licensed facemasks is probably as good an indicator as any. If teams are willing to start packing crowds into stadiums, even minimally at first, are we to expect that they really care if we are protecting ourselves? Perhaps they just want us promoting their brands under the supposition that we are being safe.

Millions of Americans can’t afford facemasks, so maybe the prudent way to build the league’s brand during a time of amplified social stress would be to start donating said safety apparel. At the very least, set it up as a sponsored giveaway, just like any number of bobblehead, t-shirt, or mini-bat promotions held during the season. Most teams have no problems giving away worthless tchotchkes, so why not something that makes members of baseball’s executive leadership look like they have genuine beating hearts? If they wait until fans are allowed in their ballparks, what’s the point?

Sure, it probably reeks of tokenism, but who cares if it helps to protect some of the 40 million-plus unemployed?  The average salary of America’s furloughed workforce is about $35,000 per year, so it doesn’t take an advanced degree in mathematics to determine which demographic is suffering the most. If league owners must continue to struggle with making smart decisions, perhaps they can make up for it by simply reaching out to the ever-growing impoverished class of their fandom.

Look, I love baseball, and most professional sports for that matter, but I’m willing to take a timeout for the rest of this year. I’d much rather see a meeting of commissioners working together to make plans for 2021, ones which should put the health and welfare of the players and the fans first. To me, that shows true leadership and makes a strong statement at a time when too many people are relaxing efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. It has been said that a vaccine may be available by Q4 of this year. Let’s track the progress of that and build the future of professional sports on its availability to the general public.

Of course, then we just have to worry about the anti-vaxxers.

Cubs News & Notes

Find Your Inner Hero

Michelle Brenner is replacing the high school lunch lady as America’s favorite server of mass produced meals. The Gig Harbor, WA native used her federal stimulus check to prepare and deliver trays of lasagna to the financially challenged families near her home. “The world as we know it is falling apart, but my 2 little hands are capable of making a difference,” she said. “I can’t change the world, but I can make lasagna.”

That’s the quote of the year.

Odds & Sods

This is pretty darn cool.

Apropos of Nothing

When I was a kid, I had a portable black & white TV with a 13-inch screen that I used to put at the foot of my bed to watch sports until I drifted off to sleep. And though I grew up in Illinois, when it came to college basketball I always rooted for Indiana. In the mid-70s, WCIU (channel 26) would broadcast all the IU games and I became a huge fan of players like Scott May, Quinn Buckner, and Bobby Wilkerson.

Last night I watched Perfect in ’76, a Showtime documentary dedicated to that season’s 32-0 National Championship squad led by Bobby Knight. I watched every single game that season. I highly recommend you watch the film, and I believe it may be available on Netflix and Amazon Prime as well.

MLB News & Notes

Pirates reliever Edgar Santana has been suspended for 80 games for PED use.

Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani is a subject of a Japanese baseball documentary that shows his path to the major leagues.

There are three incidents that could trigger the cancellation of the 2020 MLB season. Obviously plain old common sense isn’t one of them.

Nationals stars Sean Doolittle and Ryan Zimmerman are facing tough decisions, as both have very personal reasons to potentially opt out of playing this year.

The Marlins will have a proprietary lager at their stadium once fans are allowed to return. They really need to go back to their old logo and uniforms.

The universal DH is here to stay, and if you don’t like it, too bad.

Not everybody is returning to baseball, and for some high school and college teams, and of course all minor league teams, summer is over.

The Twins will not allow coaches Bob McClure and Bill Evers to be with the team this season because each is 60+ years old and therefore high risk candidates due to the pandemic.

Extra Innings

You’re probably not interested in hearing anything that constitutes a baseball labor dispute, but this could be significant.

Sliding Into Home

I was very sick Thursday and Friday, hit the ER due to internal bleeding, and spent the weekend recovering. I am having surgery at 2pm today, so you won’t hear from me tomorrow and I may be absent Wednesday, too. I expect things to goo routinely, and that this is not a major setback of any kind. The good news is that the dosages of some of my prescriptions have been substantially reduced to stop the further destruction of my stomach.

They Said It

  • “This is about: How can we safely bring fans back into the ballpark? Just to make it perfectly clear: We would not do this – even if [Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker] allowed it – if we thought it would be unsafe. So there will be social distancing when people come into the ballpark. [Pritzker] mentioned 20 percent capacity. We’re looking at manifests to find out how we can responsibly socially distance up to 20 percent, or in our case around 8,000 fans inside Wrigley Field.” – Crane Kenney
  • “[Sosa] hit 20 home runs in 27 games. That’s just insane. This isn’t PlayStation 4 or something like that, this is the big leagues!” – Tyler Houston

Monday Walk Up Song

How Soon is Now? by The Smiths – Is it really that big a deal if we just wait until next season?

“You shut your mouth
How can you say
I go about things the wrong way?

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