The exhibition games were nice. It was fun to see the players on the real field, wearing real uniforms, and trying to get hits and outs.
But it isn’t real just yet. The fun part begins on Thursday when it’s the Yankees vs. Nationals, Gerrit Cole vs. Max Scherzer.
It’s been nine months since there was a real baseball game, one where we cared who won or lost. One where the players cared who won or who lost. When that finally enters the equation, then it will feel normal.
Even with fake noise, and with or without cardboard fans, it will feel good to put our emotions back into a game. Most of us do that from the comfort of our own homes anyway, so why let the lack of fans get in our way of enjoying the game? We’ve waited long enough to invest our energy into a game in which we didn’t already know the outcome (although, thanks for all the classic replays while we waited).
And if we are lucky enough to play this season from start to finish all the way through October with a champion crowned, let’s remember to recognize the winner will be a team that has had to travel a road unlike that of any other team in history.
Maybe 60 games isn’t enough to measure the stamina and focus a team has to display in a normal 162-game season. But how many times has a team had to play in these circumstances? In many ways, it’s a more challenging time, because it’s only 60 games and the champion of such a season deserves to be celebrated just as much as any other – minus the champagne showers and street-crowding parades, of course.
We celebrated teachers and students everywhere for their resolve in completing their school years in unprecedented fashion. We didn’t tell high school and college graduates they didn’t really earn diplomas, did we? To the contrary, we cheered them for pushing through and achieving greatness in conditions none of us ever had to endure.
Let’s do the same for the athletes if we are lucky enough to have this season played to completion. Let’s not argue about how many games a real champion has to play.
To paraphrase the great Norman Dale:
These individuals have made a choice to work, a choice to sacrifice, to put themselves on the line 60 nights in the next nine weeks to represent you, this fan base. That kind of commitment and effort deserves and demands your respect.
You are about to witness a season unlike any other. Celebrate it.