Wait ’til Next Year

Need we say more?

The drouth was over. It ended the only way it could. An infected, rebarbative player celebrated along with the still-healthy ones. After six games. Some fans were inside a gleaming hitherto-unused, untested stadium: the first to see in-person action since a handful of spring-training exhibitions.

(Call it, and what follows The Dangling [Hot Stove League] Conversation…another tale told by an idiot…a.k.a. a workshopping of 2021.)

There turned out to be no reappearance of baseball at the Summer Olympics after all. And no showcase-anarchy in the UK.

There were 14-innings doubleheaders and the prospect of tripleheaders.

One club clubbed 29 runs in a rout.

Teams got sick. Teams got well. Hung around the inkwell.

There was annoying piped-fan noise.

Home-teams wore road uniforms and vice versa. Sometimes, the players themselves couldn’t figure out when a game was won or lost (like some elections).

There was a team playing its home schedule in another country, within a minor-league setting. (The entire minor-league season, all levels, had been canceled.)

There was little talk of manufacturing runs. (“What [made-in-the-USA or foreign] factory does that?” [hoho]) Batted balls either flew out of vacant parks (cf. scoring 29, above) or there was “a K.” The launch-angle-analytics-exit-velocity era was in full swing (as it were).

There was serious talk about fun and the pace of the professional-game.

Hitting below the Mendoza Line was virtually acceptable and probably inevitable thro a puny 60-game schedule. This sample-size determination, versus a regular-season 162 games, plus 30-to-40 preseason, in part accounts for many statistical anomalies. Essentially, we watched an April-and-September season.

More anomalies you ask? A recently disgraced, if unrepentant, sub-.500 team almost sneaked into the World Series. Something like half the teams were rewarded with postseason berths.

In hard times there were unseemly disputes between rich ballplayers and richer owners over, what else?..more riches.

And a new zillionaire owner will change the topography of New York baseball.

There was players’ outcry throughout MLB. (We must love one another or die.)

Lost were Kaline, Seaver, Gibson, Brock, FordHorace Clarke.

Gained in all probability (thus saving jobs) was the DH by the N.L., which hereby would join the rest of the uncivilized-baseball world.

Watch for neutral-site World Series, which aren’t plagued by the late-October or even November (or beyond) vagaries of unseasonable heat, unreasonable cold, rain, wind, and sleet/snow. Year-round international baseball, long predicted on the model of the ICC, has to be in the (metaphorical) offing.

For the present, regional rivalries will begin to supersede traditional intraleague play. Costs will be cut that way.

It’s doubtful announcers will travel with their teams or be altogether onsite anymore. More costs cut…and Zoom! it’s back to the future.

About a century ago, during other times of a great plague in 1918, enigmatic Hal Chase was accused of cheating, certainly gambling on baseball (and his name seeped into, before he was acquitted of such involvement, the Chicago Black Sox Scandal a year later), as we saw among several recently—the above-referenced Houston Astros as well as the Boston Red Sox.

If history doesn’t repeat, it rhymes (a phrase attributed to Mark Twain even if he never said it, certainly never wrote it). It took Babe Ruth and the live-ball era/revolution of the home run—just as, perhaps, proponents of analytics are functionally accomplishing today—to rejuvenate the game.

Irony is its own reward…the walking shadow…

…that measures what we lost.

It’s the 2020, stupid.

About rightoffthebatbook

Co-author of the book, "Right Off the Bat: Baseball, Cricket, Literature, and Life"
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