Photo by: Master Sgt. Stan Parker
Major League Baseball is Back
This year has not been kind to anyone, especially those of us who love sports. COVID-19 has caused the world to come to a screeching halt, and with it of course took the sports world away. Last Thursday, Major League Baseball launched Opening Day 2020, in what will be one of the most bizarre seasons in history.
With the return of baseball, a sense of normalcy returned, especially for those of us who use baseball as an escape or is a muse to some of us.
We have been without sports – with the exception of WWE, UFC and the PLS, among others – since March. All of those organizations that returned, including the MLB, have done so without fans in attendance. Outside of a few exceptions, we have never experienced sporting events without an audience in the arena/stadium. It’s definitely something to behold, but it’s not all that bad. With the MLB, they have instituted cardboard cutouts throughout the 30 stadiums as well as incorporated crowd noise from MLB the Show 20, their franchise PlayStation game.
Last Thursday the New York Yankees paid a visit to the reigning, defending World Series champion Washington Nationals. Gerrit Cole picked up his first victory for the Yankees, in a six-inning, one-hit outing. The game was called after the sixth inning due to inclement weather. The game aired on ESPN and brought in four million viewers, the most for a regular season game in nine years.
While we are celebrating the return of baseball, we must do so with caution. On Monday, it was reported that 14 members of the Miami Marlins organization tested positive for COVID-19. This comes a day after the Marlins took two-of-three from the Philadelphia Phillies. As a result, the Marlins home opener against the Baltimore Orioles and the Phillies game against the Yankees were postponed. The season isn’t even a week old and already we have our first real scare of this season not lasting the intended entirety.
Miami’s game against Baltimore on Tuesday night has also been postponed. The Orioles returned to Baltimore and if the Marlins get enough guys cleared after being tested again on Monday, the games could take place in Baltimore opposed to Miami. The Phillies were also tested on Monday with the results expected to come back sometime on Tuesday. For the sake of all those affected and those potentially exposed to the virus, hopefully the protocols the MLB has put in place are strong enough to get the players back on the field without possibly exposing more people.
With this bizarre season comes some bizarre twists to the rules. For example, the DH is now universal, meaning both the American and National League will use a DH. In extra innings, to help prevent marathon games and the use of more players, each team will start with a runner on second base. The last out of the ninth inning will serve as the runner designated to start on second.
We have seen two games go extra innings thus far and one of those led to a direct advantage and win. The Kansas City Royals defeated divisional rival Cleveland 3-2 in 10 innings. Cleveland starter Mike Clevinger said “Whackest shit I’ve ever seen.” Clearly he is not a fan of the rule and he is not alone.
The other game it did not matter, as the Oakland A’s loaded the bases only for Matt Olson to deliver a walk-off grand slam on the first pitch he saw against the Los Angles Angels.
For me personally, I like the extra inning rule. It adds a unique dynamic to the game. Some will argue that it gives the away team the advantage, but there are two ways for the home team will be the cause of the extra inning(s); 1. The home team could blow a lead 2. The home team could rally from behind. This no doubt will cause some added pressure to the reliever coming into or staying in the game. The runner, if he crosses home plate, will be credited with a run scored, while the pitcher will be charged with an unearned run. It is a unique rule change, but I think it is one for the betterment of the sport and regaining popularity moving forward.
Here are some fun stats/league leaders in some categories:
- Nelson Cruz had 3 home runs and 10 RBI over the weekend
- Colin Moran (Pirates) and Anthony Rizzo (Cubs) both have 3 home runs
- Jackie Bradley Jr. (Red Sox) is batting .571 (8-14) for the struggling Red Sox
- Tommy Pham leads the league with 4 stolen bases
- Ronald Ancuńa Jr has struck out 11 (!) times in 4 games – YIKES
- Shane Bieber (Cleveland) struck out 14 in 6 innings pitched; 1 of 6 players with 10+ Ks
- Anibal Sanchez (Nationals) has given up 4 home runs; Mike Foltynewicz (Braves) gave up 3 home runs Monday night vs the Rays and was designated for assignment after the game
It is great to have baseball back. Getting off work and turning on a baseball games to unwind is a thing of great bliss. Having baseball on as background noise, while the noise is a bit different this year, is somewhat calming. I’m not sure if we will get the entre duration of the 2020 season, but I’m surely going to enjoy it while it lasts.
World Series Prediction: Dodgers over Twins.
Be safe. Be kind. Most importantly, WEAR A MASK!