Happy Opening Day in a barren landscape
Now, I'm starting to miss sports
I really couldn’t give a hoot that the NBA, the NHL and NCAA Tournament have closed up shop.
In normal times, this is a dead sports period for me. While I adore covering high school basketball and hockey I take a break from my fandom after the Super Bowl.
Truthfully, the novel coronavirus saved me from wasting $10 in the NCAA Vail Daily pool. My goal never was to win but to avoid the basement, a bad look for the paper’s sports editor.
While everyone else is plotting their bracket progress, I am usually achieving a zen-like state of readiness for baseball season, which should have started Thursday.
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Commence the sports-withdrawal symptoms.
This weekend is meant to be the Giants at Dodgers — and theoretically, Rockies at Padres, if Rockies fans actually exist, which I severely doubt. (If a Rockies fan falls in the forest and no one is there, does he (or she) make a sound? It’s a serious philosophical question. For Colorado sports fans, the Nuggets, Avalanche and Rockies are merely hobbies between Broncos seasons.)
Alas, we have no baseball, even though the Giants and the Rockies were going to be battling it out for the cellar of the NL West while the Dodgers are the prohibitive favorites to win the 2020 World Series — perish the thought.
Baseball is constancy, there every day, pretty much the soundtrack of life.
The radio was always on in the backyard. Pop, who hated baseball, promised to take me to a night game at Wrigley Field during the 1970s, hoping to shut me up about taking me to a ball game. (The lights came to he Friendly Confines in 1988, and the Freuds came in 1990.)
Dinner always revolved around when the Giants were playing, much to Pop’s chagrin. Mom sent me boxscores even when I was at summer camp because, well, you have to keep up with your team.
At college in Southern California, I went to a ton of games in the belly of the beast, Dodger Stadium, and multiple times nearly got my rear end kicked before it became a fashionable thing between Dodgers and Giants fans.
It was there Aug. 18, 2006, when Pop died. The Giants beat the Dodgers that night. (I didn’t remember the score of 7-3 and I’ve repressed Shea Hillebrand as a Giant — he homered, apparently.)
We had our memorial service for Pop about a month later, and the Giants lost, 2-0, in St. Louis. I’m sure Pop was really happy we tuned in amid the rites. I could hear a sonorous voice bellowing, “This is about me, dammit.”
And, yes, it was there during even-numbered years early last decade. Thank you, God. (Truthfully, those titles are the most concrete evidence I have that there is a benevolent god in the universe. I’m not being crass. Maybe he works in mysterious ways?)
To be honest, I don’t know if we’re going to have a season. Think about it — it requires 26 metro areas in North America to be coronavirus-free simultaneously. Right now, New York (Mets and Yankees), Seattle (Mariners), the San Francisco Bay Area (Giants and A’s) and Los Angeles (the godless infidels and the not-much-better Angels) are “hot spots.”
But with uneven enforcement from state to state and Toronto — don’t forget the Blue Jays — with sheltering in place or not, my bet is that coronavirus is going to be a game of Wack-a-Mole, in which getting 40,000 fans together on a daily basis isn’t going to be a good idea. (And you do need fans, because the tickets and concessions are a big part of revenue.)
As much as people in Major League Baseball are thinking about starting in June or July and/or playing into October and November at neutral sites to pack in more games and play the postseason without travel and bad weather, I doubt whether we’ll be ready for this by the official start of summer.
As much as I want to see how the Astros play without buzzers or trash cans — they’re still a good team until new manager Dusty Baker finds a way to undermine his team in the playoffs — whether the New York Yankees can make the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw cry again in the postseason — please — and whether the Giants will lose 100 game — probably — baseball is probably going to have to take a back seat to real life.
The same goes for the assumed restarts of the NBA and NHL. Are packed arenas in the summer a good idea?
Maybe we’re all going to become Rockies fans waiting for football.
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