America will celebrate Independence Day this weekend but like Memorial Day weekend, we’ll celebrate without Major League Baseball. Hope lies in the fact that 30 teams will begin Spring Training 2.0, or Summer Camp as it is being referred to, tomorrow. It sort of reminds me of how we celebrate Groundhog Day — we’ll hope for the best while knowing that bad news may be just a shadow away.
Cue the hype video!
It's July 1, and that means baseball is scheduled to begin this month. 🤯 pic.twitter.com/3r9vmnPeTP
— MLB (@MLB) July 1, 2020
The big difference between the arbitrary mid-winter ritual and the return of our national pastime is that lives could be at stake as we (finally!) sit on the cusp of the 2020 baseball season. Beyond players, coaches, and umpires who will take the field every day, the health and safety of the hundreds of individuals necessary to produce each game, as well as their families, is of utmost importance. We are returning at a time of very mixed messaging in regards to the spread of the contagion. It’s fair to wonder if we are choosing the correct path, and if documented safety measures and best practices are enough to navigate the season safely.
COVID-19 isn’t even the only concern. Though professional athletes tend to keep themselves in peak shape year-round, none have done so previously while battling a global pandemic. Starting pitchers are accelerating their preparedness schedules, batters will be struggling with timing, and with a very limited number (3) of exhibition games scheduled, we can anticipate a very cold start to the season. Expect the aged and those with perennial injuries to experience at least some downtime. Should we expect a rash of rotator cuff and elbow injuries? It’s not out of the question. Hamstring pulls and achy backs? Undoubtedly.
There’s also a very real chance that once players and coaches officially kickstart their camps, the league or players union may find that there’s just no feasible way to resume the season while keeping its constituency infection-free. Who knows if the 100+ page health and safety manifesto, distributed to all teams and players, accounts for every possible scenario? It probably doesn’t, and a surprise or too seems more likely than not.
Still, baseball is back, and hopefully the joy that accompanies the words “Play Ball!” does not possess a short shelf life. It will be nice to drool over mammoth home runs, suicide squeeze plays, and the pressure attached to amplified pennant races. Teams won’t be tanking this year because there’s no benefit to it, so we may get to see a lot of hot prospects who may have otherwise been buried by service time manipulation and scarcity of roster spots. Anything can happen in a 60-game season, and anything you might imagine probably will.
Cubs News & Notes
- If you haven’t read about Tommy Hottovy and his battle with COVID-19, stop right here, link over there, and then come back.
- Perhaps MLB should be a little more fearful of Hottovy’s battle with the novel coronavirus.
- Wrigley rooftops have received city approval to operate at 25% capacity during the regular season.
- Dexter Fowler has finally severed all ties to the Windy City. The outfielder said he prefers pizza in St. Louis over the scores of legendary pies one can find in Chicago. He’s dead to me now.
- Yu Darvish will likely be named as the team’s Opening Day starter. How could would it be if he takes the mound wearing a mask?
- David Ross said he intends to stick with a five-man rotation, likely slotting Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester, José Quintana, and Tyler Chatwood behind Darvish.
- Ross is also leaning toward going with a regular, set lineup. The new Cubs skipper added, “I think the more we give guys regular at-bats, the better it’s going to be as we continue [the season].”
- Jed Hoyer indicated that no Cubs players have asked to opt out of the truncated season.
- Should Chicagoans get their hopes up that Marquee and Comcast will reach an agreement ahead of the regular season? If I were making odds I’d say it’s probably a 50/50 proposition at this point.
Find Your Inner Hero
I’m just gonna leave this here…
#Firstresponders work hard day in and day out for all of us.
— Fund the First ™ (@FundtheFirst) June 19, 2020
Apropos of Nothing
A hearty thank you to the purveyors of fast food, particularly Taco Bell.
Odds & Sods
As mentioned in yesterday’s Rundown, baseball needs to ensure that the legacy of Kenesaw Mountain Landis remains unabridged. I don’t approve of canceling history, but I am vehemently against ignoring the man’s vile indiscretions and blatant hypocrisy.
As the legacy of former MLB commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis is under review, there is this: The former segregationist was also responsible for the Hall of Fame's character clause in the ballot criteria, a clause cited annually by some voters. The Landis hypocrisy is thick.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 2, 2020
MLB News & Notes
Analytics-forward teams like the A’s may resort to openers and small ball to gain an early advantage in the standings.
The Yankees may target relief help at this year’s trade deadline.
ESPN published a list of World Series champions who would have missed the postseason playing a 60-game schedule, including the defending title holders, and (curses!) the 2003 Florida Marlins.
If you think baseball will look a little different this year, wait until you see how stadiums are preparing for the re-entry of fans.
Putting it nicely, Rob Manfred indicated that a 60-game season was always the most logical outcome.
There is a real fear that minor league baseball will never be the same.
If you ever truly believed that cord cutting would lead to the end of bundled packaging and disproportionate pricing for access to televised content, YouTube would like you to hold its beer. In any demand-side or supply-shock market, the consumer will take it on the chin. Of course Viacom, which may be more criminally oppressive than Disney/ESPN, is usually at the forefront of raising those price ceilings.
YouTube TV Adds ViacomCBS Channels, Announces Price Increase https://t.co/V2BOo8Pmqu
— CordCuttersNews (@CordCuttersNews) June 30, 2020
Apropos of Nothing
I’d love it if YouTube users could control the types of ads we see. I ordered a book on Amazon from a television commercial I watched and now all I see are streaming ads celebrating its authors every single time I open the video app.
Sliding Into Home
I was really hoping to get a new car this weekend, but appropriating the purchase price and needed repairs into my current budget seems impossible. I, for one, am really counting on a second stimulus check, though that may not come until August, if at all. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed. I know millions are fighting similar obstacles. It can’t be very much fun telling your children that college may not be an option this fall, or asking your family to cut back on creature comforts we’ve defined as necessities.
But hey, some good news! The Sunday Rundown will return this weekend. Baseball is indeed back.
They Said It
- “If my story and journey through this helps one person realize how severe this can get and if that saves one life, then I want my story to be heard. I’m sorry I’m emotional, but it’s still fresh. I’m only two weeks from testing negative after 30 days of quarantining from my family. What my wife had to endure for a month. You just don’t want to put anybody through that.” – Tommy Hottovy
- “If they’re passing out a trophy, I want it. If they’re handing out rings and we’re all starting from the same point, I don’t care if it’s a five-game season.” – David Ross
Thursday Walk Up Song
Mercy Street by Peter Gabriel – Just a mood, and my favorite Gabriel song. Gator has committed to sending me So, the album from which this single is derived, and it’s one of my favorites. I can’t wait to get it.
“Looking down on empty streets, all she can see, are the dreams all made solid, are the dreams all made real.”