Hello, TBPC universe. It’s been awhile since we’ve talked, Dodgers Baseball or otherwise. As we all know, nothing is the same, and nothing will ever be the same again, I’m afraid.
There is a lot of current banter amongst talking heads and people looking for a story that baseball could return, but not in the form that we are used to. The current front-runner is that every team be sequestered in Arizona, and all the games would be played in and around the Phoenix area for the whole season. No fans would be allowed to attend, keeping the possibility of spreading the Covid-19 disease at a minimum. Another is that games are played, starting later in the summer, and still without the fans in the stadiums, and the season running into November or later.
But also, there is a very good possibility that we may never see any baseball this season. There’s a lot of sad ramifications to that thought. Mookie Betts will never play a meaningful game for the Dodgers, unless the Dodgers convince him to sign with them long term. Justin Turner will be at the end of his contract. Is that someone the Dodgers also re-sign? (I believe they will—JT is so ingrained in the team and the community now, I just have a feeling they bring him back.)
But there will be plenty time to discuss those sobering thoughts, and there’s enough bad news in the world right now that we can leave those for later. Let’s focus on what might be some positives from a year long hiatus from baseball.
I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been thinking about this column for a week, and I can really only come up with one positive, that being that much less wear and tear on the athletes’ bodies, especially the pitchers. No pitcher has had a whole year off from throwing in stressful situations, except those who have had surgery and spent that time rehabbing. A lot of pitchers come back stronger after their surgeries, but then again, there’s never been anything like this. A whole year with out meaningful pitches, but also without underlying injuries or rehab that they’ve had to deal with. It will be interesting to see what effect this has on the athletes.
I’m hoping that it could prolong some careers, specifically that of Clayton Kershaw. Having been in the playoffs every season since 2013 puts extra wear and tear on a precious arm. Clayton is now on the decline of his career, even though his decline is better than some people’s careers. A year of rest for the arm hopefully will allow him to go a little further into to his career. Of course, it goes that this will be the case for every major league player. But one would figure that it would help the athletes of certain ages, more than those young whippersnappers. It will be interesting to see what happens to these athletes at large a while going forward, having their bodies getting so much rest between seasons.
One other small, fun positive is all the athletes who are taking to social media in new or different ways, allowing them fans to maybe see sides of them they haven’t before. Kershaw and his family were featured on the Dodgers social media spectrum showing what a day in the life of the young Kershaw family is like. Other players will be featured as well. Ross Stripling, who already had a podcast, has been more prolific in his episodes with his buddy Cooper Surles.
Most recently, just as of Thursday, Orel Hershiser and Joe Davis have started a podcast of their own. If you enjoy the banter of Joe and Orel during a game, you’ll love this podcast. They will have manager Dave Roberts on weekly to talk baseball and other things.
One thing Roberts mentioned on the initial episode is that baseball could be one the first sports back, due to the fact that it is the least contact sport of the Big 4. There’s no body-to-body defense, and the closest players get to each other is maybe a slide, a man on first, or the batter and catcher. Things like high fives and bro hugs might have to be put on hold for awhile, but if the players union were to agree to it, it could be done.
There might not be a new normal for anyone, but sports will return someday. It will never be as soon as we like. Until then stay home, and stay safe everyone!