That was the system they had in those days. That’s what they called states’ rights. States’ rights doesn’t mean much to the Negro. You don’t get justice with states’ rights. Which is a bad thing to happen.
~James “Cool Papa” Bell
MLB Opening Day was yesterday, and as hard as I tried, I just could not get excited about it. The Royals play their opening game tonight, and while I feel a tiny bit happier about that, it’s still nothing like what I usually feel when Opening Day comes around.
I am making an effort, I really am. From the time the announcement came down that a season was going to happen up to now, I have been trying to get excited about baseball.
It’s just really hard to do right now.
Every time I think about Major League Baseball proceeding with a season, I find myself thinking, “Half those players are going to get COVID.” “This season will be ended by early September.” “It’s not like anyone can go to the games anyways.” “It’s not about the game, it’s all about the money.”
Now, admittedly, bringing baseball back is not all bad. It’s been weird not having new games to watch, even from the living room. I miss the highlight reels, even the repetitive ones. I miss having to confess to my co-workers, “Um, yeah… I fell asleep in the seventh inning, so I didn’t see that homer.” I miss the bench-clearing brawls in all their glorious stupidity. I miss seeing the perfectly cut grass of the myriad outfields and listening to the various broadcasters react to and analyze the games. I miss baseball itself.
But even that can’t drown out the thought in my head that keeps insisting that going through with this season is stupid to the core. The schedule is so short and compact, it’s almost laughable. Then there’s the not-so-funny fact that all these players are at risk for exposure.
I will watch some games — it will be hard not to. But it still won’t be the same.
I’m sorry baseball. I just can’t this year.
Slim Sallee became the first pitcher in Cardinal history to steal home on July 22, 1913 in a game against the Brooklyn Superbas. The Redbird lefty performed the feat in the game’s third inning, scoring the first run in St. Louis’s 3-1 victory over Brooklyn at Ebbets Field.
Here’s a good Baseball Project tune to start your Tuesday. This song is all about the rise and fall of Lenny Dykstra, who was considered to be one of the heroes of the 1986 World Series, but has since fallen into so much legal and financial trouble that earlier this year, a court in New York ruled that he is “libel-proof,” meaning his behavior and character are so awful even false statements cannot harm his reputation.
I grew up in a home where the radio was permanently set on WJR; I thought George-Kell-and-Ernie-Harwell was one word. I’d fall asleep listening to my parents discussing the merits and flaws of various Detroit players, and by the time I was twelve I wanted one of my own, a Tiger, my very own player to root for and adore. In 1962, my goals in life were to be the first woman governor of Michigan and to marry Rocky Colavito.
Less than two weeks after Larry Doby’s debut with the Indians, Hank Thompson became the second black player to debut in the American League on July 17, 1947. In the game, Thompson went 0-for-4 as the Browns suffered a 16-2 loss to Philadelphia at Sportsman’s Park. Thompson would play in only 27 games for St. Louis because his presence did not significantly raise attendance.
So long as the 2020 season is already twisted, maybe we can just play ball the Calvin & Hobbes way this year. Scoring this play would be interesting. Do you think this counts as two RBIs? Two hits in one at-bat?
In our national pastime, each player is a member of a team, but when he comes to bat, he stands alone. One man. Many opportunities. For no matter how far behind, how late in the game, he, by himself, can make a difference. He can change what has been. He can make it a new ball game.
~Bette Bao Lord, from In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson
The infographic below was created by Statista back in March, estimating the potential losses MLB teams would be facing if they were to play an 82-game season in front of no live fans. For an 82-game season, each team in the league would be facing an average loss of $640,000 per game. The infographic shows estimated total losses for the top eight teams as a result of the shortened season and spectator-less games. The total loss for the MLB was estimated to come in around $4 billion.
Fast forward to the current arrangement, with a 60-game season, and these dollar amounts are no doubt looking even more ominous than the ones in the graphic. As much as we all hate that money is such a big part of professional sports, it’s no wonder there was so much of a push to get a season, any season, underway to recoup some of these losses.
However, as I’ve mentioned before, with the coronavirus continuing to spread around the country at such a rapid rate, it’ll be interesting to see if the league even makes it all the way through the planned 60-game schedule.
The 1939 All-Star Game was held on July 11th at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, where the American League defeated the National League, 3-1. Two of the three AL runs were driven in by Yankees players (the third was an unearned run scored on an error), including a DiMaggio home run. Indians pitcher Bob Feller, only twenty years old at the time, threw 3.2 scoreless innings to earn the save.
The box score for the game can be found here.