I had really hoped that by the time my turn to write for this fine little blog again had rolled around, there would actually be something more concrete about the season to discuss. After all, the MLB had said it was sending their proposal to the players’ union early in the week. But there hasn’t been too much chatter about that yet, except for the whole fighting over money thing.
I mean, I get it. Completely rearranging an entire season takes time, even if you’re not dealing with something as insane as a pandemic. Logistics alone of halving a season and making a totally new schedule seem like a huge mountain to climb. And then you have to worry about who gets what money? It’s all too much.
I say this last part tongue-in-cheek, of course. Money should be one of the last things in this, as it’s the league’s duty to get back to normal for the good of the country, right? I mean what’s a little lost income? The rest of the country is dealing with the same issue. These are rich people! Why should the owners be pressing the players to play for less than what was agreed upon, when they, the players, are the ones taking the risk? And when they, the literal billionaires, sit at home assuming none of this risk? Many people like to sit at home and poo-poo the players for not playing. “It’s a game! You get paid good money! You should be thankful! Entertain me!!!”
It’s true, many of these men get to play a kid’s game for a lot of dough and that’s a pretty sweet setup. But also, a lot of these players have underlying conditions. Or a very close family member like a spouse has underlying conditions that make them more vulnerable to a disease. Is the extra money worth it, the pressure to play a game to ‘entertain’ millions who have been left without sports for months? I can’t say I blame them for worrying about their own lives before they worry about making billionaires and sports fans happy. The billionaires have more money to lose without going broke. Maybe it’s time they sacrificed for the country and the fans.
In the meantime, we poor schmucks are left to fill our days with any sports related content we can. I personally enjoy listening to Joe Davis’ and Orel Hershiser‘s podcast On Air with Joe and Orel.
This week’s episode includes a chat with Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner. There were a couple things they touched on that made me wonder about once the season gets going again.
JT mentioned that the team as of this moment is basically divided into thirds. Some went home, wherever that may be for a particular player, like Clayton Kershaw and Ross Stripling in Texas. Some are in Los Angeles, like JT and Joc Pederson. And some are still in Arizona. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue, because they are major leaguers and they know how to keep themselves in shape. But the wrinkle to this all is that some states have more relaxed rules about what you can and cannot do.
Keeping in regular shape isn’t the issue. Cody Bellinger has been in the batting cages in Arizona. Turner and Joc just got together last week in a park with team trainer Brandon McDaniels to play catch with someone other than a mesh screen for the first time in months. How will this effect them once the season resumes?
And when it does resume, what are the ways the players will motivate themselves without fans? Also, in a quiet stadium, do you talk more, or less? Trash talk more? Discuss strategy less? Censor yourself when you’re on the mound because you’re more aware of the cursing you’re doing? (But honestly, please don’t ever change Walker Buehler and Rich Hill).
Will there be a moratorium on being able to physically touch teammates in times of celebration for a big play like a homer or a go ahead hit? I for one wonder how long before players just forgo a no touching rule and high fives and celebrating happens with abandon. JT also joked that they should bring back the bubble machine. I am all for that! Anything that the players can do to get themselves hyped, regardless of how silly it might seem.
Of course, all these questions apply to all 30 teams so it isn’t just the Dodgers who would have to deal with these issues in a vacuum. All players are scattered around the country. All teams are going to have to figure out how to deal with no crowds. Honestly, I think the Dodgers will be better at this because they are such a “heads down, do work team.” But this is all for naught if the owners and players can’t reach an agreement to safely play as much of the season as possible. Let’s hope that reason prevails above personal interest and we see baseball back on our TVs sooner than later.