JULY 2020: National Pastime Edition

JULY 2020: National Pastime Edition
July 23, 2020 leonard slatkin

“If people don’t want to come out to the ballpark, how are you going to stop them?”
—Yogi Berra

With the start of the baseball season only moments away, I thought it might be amusing to imagine what the play-by-play commentary might sound like:

Welcome to beautiful Busch Stadium. It has been a long time coming, but here we are, on July 24, finally getting the Major League season started. The groundskeepers have done a great job getting the field ready, even with the hot and humid weather St. Louis has experienced these past few weeks.

With nearly 100 games canceled, the Cardinals will have their work cut out for them to make it to the playoffs, which will be almost as long as this 60-game season. There have been some adjustments to the rules. Every team in both leagues will have a designated hitter. That means that the pitchers do not have to extend themselves and come to the plate in what is usually a foolish attempt to hit the ball they have been throwing for almost two hours.

And should the game go into extra innings, a runner will be put on second base at the start of that inning. Kind of reminds me of how I used to play the game in the sixth grade. Other than that, various social distancing protocols will be in place as well. The catcher will be positioned six feet away from the batter, and the home plate umpire placed another six feet behind the catcher.

A new baseball will be put into play after every pitch to ensure that no particles or droplets might have been passed along. There will be temperature checks after each half-inning for all those who touched a ball during play. And yesterday, it was announced by the MLB that other than home plate, there will be no umpires, as they might come too close to the ballplayers. Each play will be reviewed on instant replay. Even though it is called “instant,” there are many angles to look at, so to keep the game moving, a game will conclude at the end of the fifth inning.

Unfortunately, baseball fans will not be allowed into the stadium. To help energize the players, the organist will try to replicate the cheers, boos, and taunts due to insobriety that are usually heard. Those watching at home are free to participate, but they have to get their own peanuts and Cracker Jack. They are also encouraged to sell these and other concessions to their friends and family for outrageous prices.

Of course, this also means that the singing of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” is banned. But you still have to stand up or take a knee for the anthem. Teams will not be permitted to travel to Canada. Torontonians don’t seem to care much, though, because hockey season is on the horizon. In a rare display of comradery, many of the ballplayers have said that they might throw the occasional octopus out onto the field.

I am so sorry. In trying to explain some of the new features of this season, I did not realize the game had started. Let me recap and tell you where we are.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have men on first and second with no one out. Jack Flaherty is struggling out there, probably because the temperature on the field is 102 degrees. And that is in the shade. But he does have a three and two count on Frazier. Here’s the stretch and the pitch.

The runners take off, and Frazier looks at a called third strike. Molina throws over to third where Matt Carpenter applies the tag on Reynolds. Dyson got a late jump from first, and Carpenter sends a bullet over to Wong. They have Dyson in a run-down, with the ball going from Wong to Goldschmidt, who tags him out. Triple Play!

But wait. There seems to be a problem as Flaherty is calling for the trainer. All the ballplayers are gathered at the mound, but in a circle, six feet apart from each other. It appears that Jack is running a bit of a fever, especially with all the perspiration coming off his head. The umpire consults with manager Mike Shildt, and a decision is forthcoming.

Oh no. Flaherty is deemed to have contracted the virus, and all the players who touched the ball on that last play will be going into quarantine. Major League Baseball has been contacted and is contemplating canceling the remaining 59 games of the regular season. This just in. It is hoped that a vaccine will be developed in time for the playoffs to commence, but probably in January instead of November. The Canadians are rejoicing.

Well, that wraps it up for another exciting season of Cardinals baseball. Go crazy folks. Go crazy.