Major League Returns (or not)
Inching closer to reality
I wrote a few weeks back that the major leagues were creeping closer to returning for all of our viewing pleasure. Which is cool but on the flip side, they’re still in creep mode.
The NBA’s return to the court is actually right around the corner with players reporting on June 21 and training camps beginning June 30. However, that is amazingly tentative as there is evidently much debate within the player ranks about if they should return at all.
There is obviously the safety factor working against the NBA’s return to play in Orlando. With the early reopening of Florida beaches and Memorial Day celebrations the coronavirus is surging in Florida, posting a new all-time high of 2,581 cases on June 13. That number surpassed the previous all-time high of 1,902 posted one day earlier.
Even if coronavirus weren’t an issue the league’s return would still be in jeopardy due to the nationwide protests of police brutality in the wake of the death of George Floyd. It’s reported that Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets led a group chat of pro players, allowing them to address their concerns. From what I’ve read they all had valid concerns and some believe that it’s a bad look for players to go sequester themselves just so they can play a game for owners who aren’t present during a time of social unrest. Stop what you’re doing and read this article about the NBA players concerns about returning.
Major League Baseball’s return is still completely up in the air and has missed a self-imposed deadline for returning to play by the July 4th weekend. The players and owners don’t seem to be close to agreeing on how to get the league back on the field.
This article by ESPN’s Senior Writer Tim Kurkjian reads like an open letter to the owners and players. Kurkjian evidently loves him some baseball and even thinks it’s important for the morale of the country. Missing the 4th of July deadline seems to irk the writer greatly and the story is very ‘Merica. However, the fact remains, baseball is just a sport and, being a sport, is way down the ladder of things that are actually important. Staying healthy during a pandemic is important. Racial justice is important. Baseball is a game.
With that said, it’ll be cool to have it back. Baseball is a great way to blow through a few hours. What I like most about this prospect of a season is that we’re already down to a proposed 72-game schedule with talk of a 48-game schedule on the horizon. Now that would make a major league baseball season interesting. Forget the way too boring for words one thousand and…I’m sorry, 182-game season. A 48-game season makes every game important and getting swept could cripple a team’s chances at the playoffs. It would be baseball on steroids (but not the Mark McGwire kind). So yeah, if the players are cool with returning amid all that is going on, let’s get it on 48-game style!
Yes, I’m going to talk about the NHL’s return as well so you can just skip this part I guess. Just kidding, but it goes without saying the NHL isn’t as popular in the States as its fellow major sports leagues. Like boxing and horse racing you either love it or don’t pay a bit of attention.
As with seemingly everything else in our lives these days the NHL is following a “phase” system and phase 3 will return the 24 teams left in the hunt for the Stanley Cup to training camps. The league doesn’t have a set date for phase 4, a return to real games. If I were a betting man, of the three big leagues this seems like the most likely to return to play. Of course, they’ll have to deal with the impending explosion in coronavirus cases and that fallout but there could be some live hockey to watch come July.
It’s a wild time and the leagues are obviously trying to stave off as many financial losses as possible by playing ball. One motivator for these leagues to get back to play is the calendar inching closer into fall and the arrival of the NFL. It would seem that these leagues would want to get a few weeks in of NFL-free play to push their product. Either way, safety first, folks and a game is a game is a game.
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
Beer Pairing: Cajun Fire Brewing’s “Big Chief” Crème Stout
Playlist Recommendation: Bob Marley & The Wailers – “Get Up, Stand Up”
Around the Way
Greenies rejoice! As the MLB Draft truncated to only five rounds this year due to the virus a lot of players were not picked and one of those players was Tulane’s own ace pitcher Braden Olthoff who tweeted that he will return for another season in Uptown.
If you were lost inside an Uptown pothole or one of those folks who only watches college baseball when the NCAA Regionals start, you missed one of the best performances of any player in the nation. Sometimes stats lie but, in this case, they tell the truth. Olthoff struck out 47 in 28 innings, gave up one extra base hit, went 4-0 with an 0.32 ERA. It was amazing and I can’t wait to watch it again next year.