A word about baseball, our national pastime.
At least it was when I was growing up.
It looks like it’s making a return to the current non-sports world of the pandemic.
The NBA is, as well, right now.
But things could always change, so all bets are off with anything.
It looked like baseball would be the last sport to make it back.
The tug of war between the owners and the players union made it appear there was no way there would be action on the diamond.
It was absurd, really, that a labor dispute was going to prevent the game from re-appearing.
No other sport has had such a problem.
So here’s the deal. There will be a 60-game schedule, the shortest in baseball history.
The normal season is 162 games, so the old bromide that baseball is a marathon and not a sprint is out the window.
This year, it’ll be a sprint.
That means, anything can happen. Teams that dominated in recent years, could wind up on the outside looking in.
And those who fell by the wayside could actually win a World Series.
That’ll make it fun for a lot of people, a joke to traditionalists.
Ten teams will earn a spot in the post-season, not 16 as had been proposed.
So the idea that slumping teams have plenty of time to break out of it doesn’t work this year.
The mantra for all teams will be to get off to a fast start and stay there.
Managers won’t be resting players for the long haul. There is no long haul.
Forget about baseball records which have been sacrosanct throughout history.
They won’t mean anything.
Especially, one of the greatest that has lasted. Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941.
No one has hit .400 since. Maybe this year’s batting champ will be closer to .500.
No one will be recognized if he hits .400. If someone does, he’ll be a punchline forever.
How about Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak?
If someone can do THAT this season, he will have gone hitless in only four games.
That I wanna see.
There won’t be crowds, of course. Fans going wild over a home run, or a team scoring two in the ninth to win 3-2, will be missing. It won’t be the same. Neither will be boos for a pitcher who is pulled by the manager after giving up four runs in an inning.
The most stunning rule this year will take place when the score is tied and the game goes into extra innings.
When a game goes into the 10th, there will automatically be a runner on second base.
Obviously, shorter games is the goal, but that one I don’t like.
All you have to do is sacrifice the runner to third and then a fly ball or a well placed grounder would get him in.
Oh. Sorry. I forgot. They don’t play like that anymore.
Runner on second? Try to hit a home run. That’s today’s baseball.
The other night I saw a women’s tennis match on TV. The players involved were not Grand Slam quality.
The match was played in a nice stadium. But there were no spectators to applaud a nifty shot.
It dawned on me that it’s going to be so easy to pinpoint what’s wrong with the playing and televising of sports in 2020.
So, my message for anyone who will look upon the skewed sports panorama is this: It’s going to be very different in many ways from what we’re used to.
Let’s accept them for what they are.
Let’s roll with the punches and try to enjoy NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and all the rest.
If you don’t want to watch, don’t. It’s your choice.
But I think there are the vast majority of viewers who are curious enough to realize this is an incredibly strange year.
And that includes the sports events we love.
Well, it’s a short one this week.
Back in the day, July fourth meant doubleheaders for all the teams.
That’s long gone.
This week, regarding Stockton Says, we’re only playing four-and-a-half innings.
But it’s in the books as an official game.