Dodgers Thoughts: Missing Opening Day

(Photo courtesy of Rick Krajewski)

There is a sense of sadness over the world Thursday, and not just from the Coronavirus. That’s not to downplay the worldwide pandemic, because nothing at this point in time is more important or worthy of our thoughts and actions. (Stay home!)

But today, Thursday March 26th, was to be Opening Day for baseball, the best unofficial holiday there is. In normal times, it is the day we look forward to the most. It signifies so much more than just the start of a new season – every team has a fresh slate. Every team has a chance. The dreams and wonder of what is yet to come. The anticipation of walk-offs, stolen bases and bat flips. Beating division rivals, monster home runs and that filthy strike out by your closer to end the game.

Sports have taken up such a huge part of our lives that we set our internal calendar by them. Late August and early September are celebrated by the start of football season. Late fall brings hockey and basketball. But nothing is as special as Opening Day in baseball. Timed perfectly with the beginning of Spring, it offers all of the best yet to come.

In times of need, sports have always been there. Indeed they were delayed for awhile after 9/11, deservedly so. But they came back and helped the country heal some, or at the very least, provide a distraction. When the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl a few years after Hurricane Katrina, the joy was a culmination of all of the hurt, despair and pain the city had endured, and gave them all something to celebrate.

Now when we need them most, sports are not there for us to consume and disappear into. With what is going on, they absolutely should not be – the safety of everyone is paramount. Across all of sports, athletes have tested positive for COVID-19, and if they were to continue it would only make the situation so much worse.

Major League Baseball has been busy trying to figure out when and if baseball will return this season. At this point, the earliest arrival of baseball to our lives would be early June, after another two weeks of resumed Spring Training. However the more likely scenario at this point seems like it would be July.

When the season would end is also up for debate. Some have a shortened regular season ending in October, with the playoffs going through November. Some have the full season being played, with the World Series being played at Christmas. I personally can’t say I like that scenario. The weather around the country couldn’t possibly support baseball going that late into winter. In that same vein, a neutral site scenario has also been discussed, with the World Series being played in Miami or some other warm weather city.

Whatever happens, to me, the worst part is the uncertainty. I completely understand why MLB cannot at this point say if or when the season will start. But having a definitive day to look forward to might help the situation- an event to look forward to while we are all distancing ourselves from friends, family and work.

Like spring, baseball, and all other sports, will return again. We will talk of the time of quarantine with gratefulness that we survived and came out the other side and hope that we never have to go through that again.

In the meantime, we can re-watch old games, read books about baseball, and daydream of when it will be back in our lives again for real. This too shall pass, even if it’s going to take a whole lot longer than any of us would like. In the meantime, I will leave you with the wonderful story from Tim Brown’s article today in Yahoo Sports, in which Clayton Kershaw describes his favorite Opening Day ever:

In the words of Kershaw, I hope we never have to do this again.


20 thoughts on “Dodgers Thoughts: Missing Opening Day

  1. It is truly a sad day today to realize that instead of opening day we’re fighting the coronavirus. Andy, you said you’d really like to have a definitive date so you’d have that to look forward to. I suggest you use March 26, 2021.

    Although I’m a bit melancholy today, I’m going to use the time to be very thankful for the many many opening days I have experienced both at the stadium and/or on tv. If I have to give up even a full season in exchange for all of those great memories, so be it.

    My hope is that everyone who comments and reads here will be safe and we’ll all be able to enjoy opening day together, whenever that happens.

    1. I am more of the thinking that there will be baseball played this year, and my optimistic view is sometime between early and late June. A 3 month season still gets them close to 100 games, and that was about how many there were in 1995 after the strike. I watched last years opening day against the D-Backs and Zack Greinke. A 8 homer day. Joc and Kike hit 2 apiece. It is a great game to watch.

  2. Just be patient, this angst and immobility of the nation (world) will soon start to fade. Panic will be replaced with cautious optimism (I actually think some optimism is beginning to sneak into the public conscience). NBA and MLB will announce plans in about 3 weeks and all the dominoes will begin to fall in rapid order.Buckle up, grab a beer and a Dodger Dog (grilled only with onions please) , this ride is about to leave the station.

    1. I’m up with your Dodger Dog suggestion (and yes, grilled with onions) and I’m trying to be patient, but if you think things will be looking better in 3 weeks and that the NBA and MLB will announce plans by then, I’m afraid that’s where we part company. New York is a holy mess and will only be much worse in 3 weeks. Yes, because people in that city basically live on top of one another, it’s probably going to be the worst case scenario but this thing has barely begun to spread across the country and until things are on a definite downslope with regard to new incidents there is no way that a sports league can make any kind of viable plan. We will survive this but I really don’t think things will be looking better 3 weeks from now.
      Full disclosure: people who know me well consider me to be more of a pessimist than an optimist on most subjects. I, of course, view myself as a realist.

      1. I am an optimist – we will definitely not be back on track in 3 weeks

      2. Hmmm, what did he actually say, let me see, ah here it is “NBA and MLB will announce plans in about 3 weeks and all the dominoes will begin to fall in rapid order.” I did not see a mention anything about things being much better in three week. What I did say was there will be some announcements, otherwise comments being floated out as possibilities. Just wait for it, we will have some really good ideas on the reopening of everything in the next few weeks. Bank it.

      3. I very much hope you’re right. I just don’t think they’ll be able to announce anything until the situation resolves itself more completely and I think we still won’t have any idea how long this will last three weeks from now. By that I don’t mean COVID-19 will have to have completely worked its way through the country for sports leagues to make plans but in three weeks I think things will be as much up in the air as they are today, except that many more people will be infected.
        Don’t know how long you’ve been following this blog IJDM but I’ll repeat what I’ve said before. I’m really good at saying I was wrong. Just ask my wife. I hope this is one of those times.

  3. I consider myself an optimistic realist. Yes, we will get through this, and hopefully we learn from it.

    For reasons already stated, I would be very surprised to see a baseball season at all this year. Many larger cities are getting a delayed start to what seems obviously will happen. This will go on for months, and even if we believe warmer weather will slow it down, I have my doubts about that, unless there are plans to shut down air travel to and from the Southern Hemisphere there will winter virus arrivals later in the year. I hope I’m wrong about that.

    1. I’m hearing more and more people from the medical community indicate they feel there is a real possibility we’ll have another go-round with this come fall-winter. Hopefully by that time a vaccine is closer, a treatment is available once you have it and they have determined for sure that once you get it and recover you’re immune.

      1. I’ve read the same thing from multiple sources. Sources I consider trustworthy. There are models beginning to form that show how “community spread” might unfold in the coming weeks. Here in Orange County we are several days behind, but of course it’s coming.

        Obviously, had we been ahead of this based on the available science rather than economics, these models would have a different look. Now we are here, many weeks after knowing what was coming and still basic necessary equipment and supplies remain unavailable. Why needs to be addressed of course so we can learn from our mistakes but that can, and must, wait. As General Semonite, Commander of the Army Corps of Engineers said, and I paraphrase, what we did yesterday doesn’t matter, what we do today and tomorrow will decide our future. He’s getting things done. Put that guy in charge.

        I think I saw one of the leading epidemiologist say he thinks the peak will be mid to late May. How many cases is of course a wild guess, but it should be in the millions. Most of course will survive as this virus, unlike Ebola, doesn’t quickly destroy its host. Most of us are just going to get sick as hell. My prayers are with those who will not survive. I hope the number is on the low side of some estimates I’ve read.

  4. Just read on MLBtraderumors that Jimmy Wynn passed away today at 78 years old. I remember the Toy Cannon well. I also remember he was traded to the Braves as part of the package that brought the Dodgers Dusty Baker. Dodgers traded, Lacy, Paciorek, Royster and Wynn and got Baker and Ed Goodson. Hard to believe that Baker spent 8 years as a Brave and 8 years as a Dodger. His stats in LA were much better than Atlanta. After a terrible 1976, he rebounded to be one of the quartet of 30 homer hitters for the Dodgers in 77. Hitting # 30 on the last day of the season against James Rodney Richard.

    1. The Toy Cannon, The Candy Man, great memories.
      That was quite a trade, quite of few pretty good players moved around on that one.

      1. Yeah. I actually saw Paciorek play a few times. One of them was the game that Billy Buckner tore up his ankle, at exactly the same spot Tommy Davis did in 65. Second base. Later in the game, Paciorek was pulled after he crashed into that low wall down the left field line chasing a fly ball, and he bruised his ribs pretty bad too.

    1. Thanks for linking to that article Scoop. A really interesting read, although somewhat depressing in a number of areas. My lingering concern is that after this is over people will quickly forget the lessons we’ve learned and then it will loop around and slap us upside the head once again.

  5. The company that makes uniforms for the major leagues has started using that material to make masks and gowns for the hospitals. The hope to have a million of them done before mid April.

      1. They are needed now. As are tests. We are weeks, even months behind in our organization for this. The United States is global illustration of how NOT to deal with both preparation for, and the administration of, dealing with a pandemic.

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