And, speaking of balls in the air in a somewhat less metaphorical sense…
Yes, today is Opening Day in what will–for however long it lasts–be the strangest season in MLB’s modern history.
I have to say I feel sorry for the poor folks tasked with putting together the schedule. One would have thought the best way to kick the season off with a bang would be to have everyone playing–especially given the need to squeeze 60 games into 66 calendar days. But, no. Somebody decided the way to go was with a major East Coast match and a major West Coast game.
Giants/Dodgers makes sense. A long, storied rivalry involving both ends of California. Okay, so it’s the disease center of the US right now, but what can you do?
But over at the far end of the country, the schedulers had a major dilemma. They didn’t have much choice about including the Nationals. They won the World Series last year (though, to be honest, that feels so long ago, I had to double-check to be sure I was remembering correctly). But who to pair them with?
The best choice from a rivalry perspective would be the Orioles, but nobody’s going to schedule a team that lost 108 games last year for a “big bang” opener.
Rematch of the World Series? Sorry, nope. Houston is in the AL West; the only way they’ll play against Washington this year is if they meet in the World Series again.
How about Atlanta? There are plenty of reasons to dislike them, dating back at least as far as Ted Turner’s heyday. Even if you can’t get behind rooting for the Nationals, you can root against the Braves. But given the current socio-political climate and the team’s adamant refusal to even consider a name change, that must have been too much hate for MLB’s liking in an Opening Day matchup.
So the schedule makers went with the default choice. If you don’t root for the Yankees, you passionately detest them. Unlike Atlanta’s case, though, it’s just because they’re the Yankees. It’s sanctioned hate. There’s no real rivalry, but it’ll work for MLB’s needs. And if New York is currently the national virus runner-up, well…the game is in Washington. Good enough.
Rivalries or no, virus or no, we’re finally getting what MLB insists we call “meaningful baseball”. As though games that don’t count in the standings–or, worse yet, where the players don’t get paid–are meaningless. But I digress.
It’ll be a strange season, no matter what happens. But it is a touch of the familiar, and perhaps more importantly, something we can use to set one day apart from the day before and the day after.
See you next week, when I’ll share my usual predictions for the post-season.
Don’t know what it says about me. Maybe I’m not a real fan, but I listened to the “Opening Day”, Giants/Dodgers, game- at least, as much as I could stand, and I think I’m done. It was great to hear Jon and Dave again, but not so great to hear them struggle with the fact that they were 500 miles away from the actual game, entirely dependent on a camera man who, evidently, didn’t understand that the announcers need to know where the ball is.
In any case, I found the experience to be just depressing- and not just because the Dodgers, predictably, ate the Giants alive. The phony crowd noises, all the stuff intended to keep us from being aware of the actual situation; they don’t work for me. Quite the contrary.
There’s a game being broadcast on Fox, in a few hours, and I don’t think I’ll bother to watch. Cardboard cutouts in the stands?
No. Just no. As the saying goes, wait’ll next year.
I am, by and large, okay with the cardboard cutouts. Most teams that are doing the cutouts are donating the money to local charities, and they add a bit of variety to the background.
The real travesty is what Fox TV is doing. They’re generating crowds in the seats with CGI. I will not be watching any games on Fox if there’s any way I can avoid it.
Cutouts I’d class as making the best of current reality. CGI crowds is hiding from reality. Which is, granted, what Fox and the current administration are best at. But that doesn’t mean I have to be complicit with it.