I suppose 2020 is not the first time someone chose to watch, or not watch, baseball based on principles.
Baseball is a reflection of who we are at this moment in history. Who we were yesterday is reflected in an aging box score and who we become tomorrow will come into focus sometime during tomorrow’s games.
So, who are we?
Are you watching baseball in 2020 or are you sitting it out – sitting it out because you’re concerned that players are risking their health by playing … sitting it out because they are wearing “Black Lives Matter” patches on their sleeves … sitting it out because it’s a shortened season that might become meaningless … sitting it out because of new rules like that man-on-second-to-start-extra-innings thing?
Everybody’s got their reasons.
But, hey, about that new rule.
I thought it was stupid. Not just stupid, but crazy-stupid.
Come to find out, it’s not so bad. When the game you’re watching slogs into hour four and your team can’t seem to push one more lousy run across, that one lousy run being all your team needs to win … and all you can think is that this game is going to go on for another four freaking hours and it’s nearly midnight …
Yeh, all of a sudden, you’ve got a man on second and no outs. That perks me right up.
So, let me just say this about that – I was wrong. That stupid new rule about starting a man on second in extra innings wasn’t so stupid after all.
This is how the new rule works.
And, seven-inning games for double headers?
So who are we then, baseball fans?
Sure, the season is so short it’s hardly worth the trouble. Players are getting hurt because, it’s said, they lacked the time they needed to prepare for the season. Teams with positive COVID tests are being shut down for days at a time. (While most teams have played nearly 30 games at this kinda-sorta-almost midway point, the St. Louis Cardinals have played just 17.)
I feel bad about all that.
And, I wasn’t sure I would watch, because I didn’t want to be complicit when someone got sick.
But, how could I not? (So much for principles.)
I mean, here’s ESPN on July 20 under the headline “Things You Can Bank On”:
“The Orioles might not win 10 games.”
Let the record show, dear readers, that the Baltimore Orioles have won 14 games … and we’re not even kinda-sorta-almost midway through.
(And, hello, still-for-now World Champion Washington Nationals fans … I know you’re reading this, even though I recently called you “thin skinned” and well, some of you got a little worked up and thin-skinned about that. Did you notice that the Orioles currently have a better record than you? Crazy times, indeed.)
I don’t mind the fake noise they’re piping into the empty stadiums. I don’t mind the empty seats, except to wish we could all be sitting in them.
You kind of get used to it.
(There’s always a “however,” isn’t there?)
I find the giant fan cutouts that some teams have filled their stands with rather creepy. The photos all seem to be scaled to the same size – which makes babies look disturbingly big-headed, and, seriously, if you blow a photo of a beloved family dog up to 6-feet tall, even a Chihuahua starts looking like Cujo.
Should those giganti’dogs be sitting out there by themselves?
I don’t want to see Ben Franklin looking all smug as he’s sitting in the stands in Philadelphia.
(He’s not even watching the game.)
Or that dude who paid for 100 cutouts of himself at White Sox games? That’s just not right.
Meanwhile, in Cincinnati, the Reds Joey Votto wondered …
“How about if I buy an entire section and it’s just my face? … Would that be weird?”
The correct answer is, no, that would not be weird. Not if Joey Votto does it. If he does it, it’s awesome.
Meanwhile, Minnesota attached disembodied “big heads” to the seats, which also pushes the creepy’meter.
But … good for you Oakland A’s who propped up a cutout of the Houston Astros mascot Orbit in a garbage can.
“… appears to have been spotted …” Yes, CBS Sports, YOU spotted it. That’s how eyes work.
I suppose, as The Baseball Bloggess, I should be commenting on the quality of the games and not wasting your time reviewing the quality of the cardboard cutout fans.
But, before we get to that, I want to assure you that I am also noting which players continue to spit, even though it has been banned. (Is it really banned if there’s no enforcement? Because, I’ve seen ‘em spitting right in front of the umpires, and there’s no scolding. Here’s an idea: Batter spits? Automatic strike. Pitcher or defensive player spits? Automatic ball. There. Do I have to solve everything?)
Oh, right, back to the games …
Here we are at the kinda-sorta-almost midway point and the Baltimore Orioles have a 14-14 record.
Sure, they’ve lost 14 games. But, they’ve won 14.
It’s easy to be conflicted when your favorite team is at .500.
But, not me.
Look, if you’re boycotting the season, I guess I can understand that.
But, if you’re boycotting because it’s gotten “too political,” I hate to be the one to tell you that baseball has always been political – from the whites-only Major Leagues through integration, to unions, pay disputes, and strikes, to being in the forefront of wartime efforts in the teens and 1940s, to players taking a stand for civil rights in the 1960s, to baseball bringing us back together after 9/11.
Baseball is who we are.
Meanwhile, the Baltimore Orioles have won 14 games. How can I not stick around to see how this all turns out?