*Crack* it’s a deep drive, it could be out of here. Going, going, gone! Homerun! And the baseball fans go……
Not Been All Bad
It has been a difficult year for baseball, for fans, for sports, and the world in general. Normally as the dog days of summer are upon us and we reach to turn the page over to September, the MLB is in the heart of its pennant races.
This season, with a compacted schedule, and one that is already teetering on the edge of the COVID-19 cliff, there is an obvious disconnect that is mounting between baseball and its fans. While a surge in the TV ratings during the first month of play has been nice, it may be more indicative of how much we have missed sports during these trying times.
The MLB has limped through the pandemic, after refusing to adopt the bubble plan that the NBA and NHL have instituted for the remainder of their season. There have been 37 games postponed so far by positive COVID-19 tests, with more uncertainly on the way, and in a time where domestic travel in the United States is next to zero, the MLB insists on its players travelling from state to state to play in empty stadiums. But it’s not been all bad, has it?
Fans were hoping for exciting changes this season in baseball, but the delayed start to the season ruined any sort of momentum the MLB had built during its offseason.
The introduction of the universal DH has been sought after for years by baseball fans and baseball insiders alike, and now that it has finally been instituted, there are no fans in the stands to see it. Likewise for the new extra-innings rules which have, admittedly, added some extra suspense, as well the fan-friendly element of more runs being scored.
The MLB has tried to do all it can to keep baseball fans engaged with the game, going as far as to place cardboard cutouts of season ticket holders in the stands.
Can the playoffs have the same feel without 50,000 raucous fans cheering every pitch and every play? Probably not. But the rise in TV ratings thus far could mean that the MLB has skirted around the blackeye that it received after the Houston Astros scandal brought cheating in baseball back to national headlines.
The Present and Future
As a long time baseball fan there is so much to look forward to this season. It is hard to remember a time when there were so many young stars that were making highlight reel plays on a nightly basis. Fernando Tatis Jr has been a revelation, Aaron Judge has been a tower of force, and Bo Bichette may be as solid an offensive player as we have seen in a long time.
We may not be able to sit in the stands on a hot August day, enjoying a ballpark hotdog and an ice cold beer, but baseball fans should be excited that the future of the game is in good hands. When one day, we’re finally allowed back into stadiums, we can only hope that the game we love so much has changed for the better.