It's oddly familiar yet way different but yes, Baseball is back...
((ed.note--This was written before learning of the multiple COVID cases w/the Marlins and two MLB games being ppd))
For those of us a certain age, there's something oddly comforting about being in the middle of summer and watching or listening to the sounds of a Major League Baseball game.
No, it's not the act of intently watching every single pitch of every single game---it's more listening to the game broadcast while doing something else. It's the buzz of the crowd, the crack of a bat, the pop of a pitch hitting the catchers glove; all sounds, all things that say "Baseball".
Despite skepticism and a rather public negotiation, Major League Baseball made it back and we officially are in the midst of a regular season. The games were largely played like the normally would be, though there were some awfully strange things that happened in between.
No, your eyes are not deceiving you, this was a Manager vs. Umpire argument conducted with masks, roughly 6-feet apart/socially distanced.
It was far from the strangest thing that happened during opening weekend, but it exemplifies one of the many "New" normals we may be seeing for the foreseeable future.
Yes, the cardboard cutout thing was weird. Most teams placed cutouts in stands around their stadiums to give at least a minimal visual impression there were people in the stands. It led to some strange sights, like the above Adam Duvall homer that plunked a cutout of Mets IF Jeff McNeil's dog. (No, I don't know why the dog cutout was randomly placed where it was)
This "Socially Distanced" game winning celebration of the Washington Nationals was pretty funny....
Yes, there were some "Strange New World' kind of things, including a handful of extra inning games that began with teams getting a runner on 2nd base to start an inning. Which, by-the-way, is a rule I like and hope baseball will keep. For all their talk about wanting to speed up and modernize the game, it's the perfect rule.
The broadcasts were strange too: As much as I wanted to hate the piped in crowd noise, there was something soothing about it. The random buzz during pauses in action is a part of baseball and I never thought I'd miss it, until it wasn't there. No, FOX Sports should NOT be putting digital fans in stands. EVER. It looks bizarre, feels weird and is incredibly distracting. Please stop doing that. NOW....
As much as many of us love the slow, strategic pace of the game, I don't know many who want to sit through or I suspect play in a 17-inning, 6-hour struggle to score an extra run.
Sure, the new rule doesn't guarantee a 10th inning end to the game, but it sure increases the likelihood it will.
All in all, for me, it was the first semi-normal thing to happen in life since March (4-months ago). For me, summer time involves having a Braves game on the TV, listening while doing other things. Even my wife enjoys having the games on. It also means a daily, game long, string of texts with my friend Scott as we have fun watching the game, even if we're not in the same town. It's the rhythm and routine of your daily life for so, so long that it's strange not having it.
I'm hoping we make it through the sprint of a baseball season and move on to the fall where other sports can start. It's again, the normal rhythm of life that you come to expect over the years.
2020 has been so freaking bizarre, life, routine and things we all took for granted have been turned on their collective heads. For me, I need, crave and am desperate for anything resembling the normalcy that's been thrown out the window.
For now, Major League Baseball, will more than fulfill that need....