After a delay of nearly four months, baseball is finally back as Opening Day has arrived. With it brings lots of emotions for fans.
Back in late February and early March, I made a trip to Arizona and spent a week at spring training, taking in several Cactus League games. It was a fun trip, but I never imagined that it might be the only live baseball that fans would get to witness this year. A week after I returned home, MLB announced that it was suspending play and that the season would be delayed by at least two weeks.
Well, two weeks ended up turning into just shy of four months. After that long delay, Opening Day is finally here. We’ve gone through a lot to get to this point: a devastating illness that has impacted a large portion of our population, lots of social unrest, and contentious negotiations between the owners and the players’ union.
We finally get to see some live baseball
The result is perhaps the most unusual season the game has ever seen: a short 60-game slate with no fans in the stands. It’s not an ideal situation, to be sure, but it’s baseball. And as terrible as it’s been to be without our beloved game for the last four months, that time away also made us appreciate just how much baseball means to us.
At the same time, this situation has put the game in perspective. As we’ve watched several players opt out of this season out of concern for COVID-19 and watched our country try to work through some important issues, we’ve also realized that, in the grand scheme of things, there are more important things than sports.
That’s the irony of this whole situation: We’ve simultaneously seen how important that baseball is to us and gained perspective on where it fits into our society. We’ve learned that life goes on without it, yet we are desperately counting down the hours until it starts again because we want a sense of normalcy.
While I’m really excited to be able to watch and follow baseball again, there are some dark clouds that linger over the season. As mentioned before, there is plenty of civil unrest in our society, while the virus continues to wreak havoc on many of our citizens.
And the fact that it took such a long time for the two sides to agree on a plan for this season exposed a lot of ill will on both sides, casting doubt on how well they will be able to get along in the long run as negotiations for a new CBA are on the horizon.
Still, the fact remains: Starting today, we have baseball that counts. And that is a huge milestone, not only for our game, but for a society that is longing to get things back to normal as much as is possible right now. Hopefully, for the next three months as we play the 60-game season and the postseason, the game will provide some relief and comfort, just as it has so many times before.