The 2020 Season
Tuesday, July 21 2020 @ 07:19 AM EDT
Contributed by: Eephus
Like it or not, something wicked this way comes.
And this is definitely going to be something.
I'd like to look at the upcoming season separately from the “I love that this is back but feel guilty for enjoying it” perspective, or the "this just shouldn't be happening" argument (I agree) and steer it in a different direction. The 2020 MLB season will go down, within the historical context of baseball, as a truly unique enterprise.
Most apparently, a short 60 game season lends chaos to the imagination of any fan. The Miami Marlins could be terrible (as they will be, surely) but go on a 12 game winning streak and perhaps sneak into the playoffs. Competitive sport is competitive sport, and as long as the game is played fairly (*cough* Astros *cough*) there will be no asterisks as far as the players are concerned. Win first, let history sort it out later.
Thing is, this snack-sized season will be fertile ground for asterisks.
For instance, somebody could easily get hot for these two months and hit .409 for the whole season. Does that truly best what Ted Williams did in 1941? (the answer is no, but how does MLB approach something like that?) Would that player be considered a member of the .400 club, as it were? A whole season is a whole season. Beyond the logistics of actually making this somewhat work, somewhat safely, this entire season is going to be incredibly awkward for everyone.
Historically, what is about to happen will stand out like a thumbtack in a thumb within baseball lore.
This is a game where so much of its appeal is in the marrow that strengthens its skeleton. When you watch Bo Bichette take an at-bat, there are multiple thoughts that cross your mind. The easy ones are: “man he’s good”, “love the hair”, “geez he does swing out of his shoes”, or leg kick stuff etc. But your thoughts also can occasionally dive deeper, and baseball gladly invites you down the rabbit hole. Say with Bo, you can think about how good his dad was (pretty solid player), then remember he played with Larry Walker, who of course played on the star-crossed 94 Expos team, a team which also had Moises Alou, maybe most famous to a casual fan for trying to catch the foul ball in the NLCS when Steve Bartman’s hand got in the way, but then the often forgotten miscue of that game is Alex Gonzalez’s botched double play ball that would’ve still saved the inning for the Cubs. Alex Gonzalez (The First) came up with the Blue Jays right around the same time as Carlos Delgado, infamously miscast as a catcher (yikes) and an outfielder before finding his home at first base. His presence indirectly ran John Olerud out of town (because Gord Ash forgot what a DH was... I mean really liked Robert Person) and so Olerud spent most of his great career elsewhere, eventually ending up on the 2001 Seattle Mariners, winners of 116 games (good luck beating that record, 2020). That Mariners team was so fun (rookie Ichiro, Bret Boone wiffing in the HR derby and just shrugging) and while they couldn’t get past the Yankees in the ALCS, one of their aces was a pitcher named Freddy Garcia, a curve/sinker fella who wound up on the 2005 White Sox and helped them win a title. Also on that 2005 White Sox team was a young shortstop named Juan Uribe, and sure he bounced around as a journeyman for a bit but at the end was a key contributor to some of those late 2010s Dodger teams that always catch our attention during playoff season. Uribe was then obviously, a teammate of Clayton Kershaw, the long time face of the LA Dodgers in this era.... and Bo Bichette hit two home runs in the same game off of him last year.
It is a cyclical game (especially when you invent your own cycles). I don’t agree with the way this wacky season really feels forced upon us, or any of the claims that baseball is what a wounded world needs. It will make an enjoyable diversion and fire up passion within its believers, as it always does.
Personally though, I'm more interested in the wackiness. Somebody bats .577... Tanner Roark has an ERA of 0.88 for the year... A team gives up 100 more runs than they score and wins the World Series. If you wanna get nuts then lets get nuts. Have at it.