We love sports because of the uncertainty. We never know for sure what will happen. What kind of a player will Adley Rutschman be? Can Lamar Jackson reach another level?
What we’re experiencing now is the worst kind of uncertainty, the unsettling kind.
What’s familiar to us we can’t have. No sports. No movies. No restaurants or bars.
That special birthday or anniversary dinner won’t be happening, and while we can read books, stream movies or listen to music at home, our favorite outlets have been taken away.
A week ago I was in Florida when I found out that Major League Baseball was banning reporters from the clubhouses, and for three days we lived with that new reality. Interviewees were brought to us for awkward talks in an unnatural setting.
Those seem like the good old days now.
People who know me always think I’m the optimistic one. When a blizzard is forecast, I’m always certain it won’t be as rough as predicted. The snow can be shoveled, and it will melt in a few days and, besides, it’s only two weeks until spring training begins.
I’ve been optimistic about the coronavirus outbreak, thinking it will be over in a few weeks, and then we can get back to normal.
I’m not sure what to believe now. The Centers for Disease Control has recommended against gatherings of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks, making sure there won’t be baseball until perhaps Memorial Day, maybe later.
I keep thinking as quickly as conditions worsened, they’ll get better, but that’s the optimistic me.
My late father always used to tell me that he thought the beginning of spring was St. Patrick’s Day. For the first time in many years, I’m home for St. Patrick’s Day, and it isn’t a great feeling.
Two members of my immediate family work in medicine. That’s a source of pride for me. They’re doing wonderful things for people, helping things, and I’ve watched them help other family members, too.
But now I worry about them, and everyone else — friends who have elderly parents who they can’t be in the same room with, older friends who might be susceptible, and younger friends, too. I want to be optimistic about all of them.
My wife always looks forward to her annual visit to spring training. This year she watched two games, shared lovely meals and trips with me, and got to witness the engagement of our friends, Emily Alt and Roch Kubatko, but she was concerned about the spread of the illness and her job.
When she left for home last Wednesday, I told her I’d see her in 13 days—or much sooner. The much sooner won.
As soon as the NBA suspended its season, I knew that baseball would quickly follow. The Orioles were scheduled to play the Minnesota Twins in Fort Myers on Thursday night, and I was skeptical they would.
However, the team boarded their buses for the trip, and I prepared to depart, too. Before I could leave the building, the buses had returned, and we knew what was coming. Ninety minutes later, the word came that spring training was over, and two hours later came the news that Trey Mancini had a malignant tumor removed from his colon.
A few hours later, I booked a flight home on Saturday, 10 days before I was scheduled to come home.
In the coming days, I’ll share what ever Oriole news there is. There should be more news on Mancini and, perhaps, the team will add left-hander Wade LeBlanc to its 40-man roster by Thursday.
Obviously, I’d much rather write about the uncertainties of the rotation and the roster as a whole than speculate on when we’ll see baseball in 2020.
The entire sports calendar is now out of sorts. No Masters or Boston Marathon in April. No Triple Crown races in May, and no NCAA bracket to fill out. The NBA playoffs may take place in tiny G-League arenas instead.
I don’t see how there can be a 162-game season. Sure, a 110-game season is better than none. There will still be a World Series, but there can’t be a 40 or 50 home run hitter or even a 15-game winner.
Someone’s streak of 20 home run seasons will come to an end, and for years we’ll be talking about the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
Of course, those are trivialities when we know what’s at stake here.
September 11, 2001 was the worst day of my lifetime. I knew two people who died in the Twin Towers, and loved ones of three friends died at the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
That day changed the way we live. I can’t even remember the screening process before TSA officers checked us.
This, too will change the way we live, but we won’t know that for months or a year or two.
A frequent commenter to the site on Monday wrote: “Nobody in the sports world has a tougher job today than Rich Dubroff. It was tough enough to find anything to write about this team 2 weeks ago, but now this.”
I responded that the writers on the Utah Jazz, who had to be tested for the coronavirus after Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell tested positive, had it much tougher.
In the days that followed spring training’s suspension, people have asked what I will write about. I write about the Orioles at least five days a week in the offseason, too, when spring training is many weeks away. There’s always something to write about.
That’s the same now, except I don’t know for certain when they’ll resume.
I watched a month of spring training, and saw 18 games, and in the coming days, I’ll tell you what I saw even if much of it may not matter when the hiatus ends.
While I wait, there are books to read, and I promise I’ll finally watch “The Godfather,” which I knew I’d see this winter, but didn’t.
Most important, there are Oriole fans who’ll wait, maybe not so patiently, for news about the team they love. I hope the good news comes soon. I’m still optimistic about it.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB
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