Thursday was supposed to be one of the year’s happiest days — baseball’s Opening Day. But like this year’s NBA season, school year, Olympics and millions of other events once scheduled and now postponed indefinitely (including, we’re sad to say, the release of Lady Gaga’s new album), baseball has been scuttled. For how long, we do not know. Even if baseball does get going eventually, this season will be the first since 1994 — the year of the ill-fated players’ strike — that teams and fans have not enjoyed a full season of 162 games.
Major League Baseball, once rightly considered America’s pastime, has had a rough couple of years. What was once a game of strategy and cunning now has distinctly less of both. Where once teams “manufactured runs” through bunts, steals and sacrifices, now they swing for the fences. The upshot? Vastly more home runs and vastly more strikeouts. The other upshot? A vastly more boring game.
The revelation this winter that the Houston Astros, one of the dominant teams of the past several years, cheated on an industrial scale by stealing their opponents’ signs did not help Americans’ faith in the game. Nor did the laughably weak punishment that the league’s brass meted to the shameless cheaters from Texas. No players were sanctioned, nor were the Astros stripped of their World Series championship.
Still, millions of Americans cherish baseball, warts and all. We’re among them, and join them in sadness that we won’t be heading down to the ballpark for a game anytime soon.
Probably the only fans who aren’t too broken up that this season is in jeopardy are those of the New York Mets. Their star pitcher, Noah Syndergaard, just announced that he has to undergo a surgery that will take him out of commission until 2021. For them, this season was doomed to be a wash anyway.
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