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Baseball's State of Play (Lack Thereof)
Baseball may still figure a way out of this quagmire; it has crawled its way out of messes before. But a labor fight during a global pandemic — with the two sides in such open combat that several players and coaches testing positive for COVID-19 became just another thing to fight about — sure seems a bigger kettle of fish than ever before. And something feels different this time. We’ve seen a lot of internecine disputes before in baseball, and in sports. But they’ve never felt this gross. And, crucially: They’ve never felt this irrelevant.
That is a great way to describe the situation and why everyone is so upset by it. The world is burning and baseball is fiddling. On that topic — the real world:
Those early days where this all felt novel, perhaps even good for us — I’ll cook more! I’ll write that novel! Finally time to watch ‘Bosch’! — have faded; now we’re all just stuck with the dulling realization that this is just what life is now and what it’s going to be for quite a while to come. I still miss my corner bar. But I’m not pretending I’m going there anytime soon anymore, either. I’ve made my peace with it.
And one thing I’ve noticed less and less of in recent weeks is people pining for a “return to normal.” One reason for this is the understanding, particularly among white people witnessing (and participating in) the remarkably resilient Black Lives Matter protest movement, that “normal” is something that we shouldn’t all be aspiring to return to.
Well said. To bring it back around:
I learned to love sports because I loved baseball first. I’ve written books about it, and I spend weeks every year visiting stadiums around the country. My taciturn, midwestern father and I talk about baseball in a way that we’ve never been able to talk about anything else. And I’ve afflicted my 9-year-old son with this disease. Three months into all this, he still comes upstairs every morning to ask me if I know when baseball is coming back yet. I write about baseball professionally, for this publication and several others, including MLB.com itself. I had a few pieces in the World Series program last year, and seeing my name and my words that close to my favorite sporting event on the planet has the 7-year-old version of me doing backflips. An alarmingly high percentage of the most memorable moments of my life involve baseball in some way, shape, or form. This is my sport.
I’m in the same camp, baseball was my first love in sports. The first game I loved to watch. The game I most loved to play. And these asshats — the owners in particular — are ruining it. In a very real way, they’re literally killing my childhood.