Tuesday was the two-month anniversary of when spring training came to a halt. It feels much longer. When the suspension began, I remember thinking that by mid-May or early June at the latest, baseball would be back.
On the plane ride home, I thought about ways to use the time constructively. Of course, there were articles to write, and in two months, there always has been something to write about.
I picked out three books I wanted to read and a half-dozen movies to watch.
Well, those books are long since read, and I’ve moved on to others, and I’ve seen those movies and more and, yes, I’ve watched all eight episodes of “The Last Dance” and begun a long-term project.
What I haven’t done is watch much baseball programming. ESPN, MLB Network and MASN have shown games from the past, many of which I saw either live or on television, and I don’t have any desire to see them again.
I was up early on Saturday morning, and I watched about 10 minutes of Korean baseball. That was enough for me.
I’ve tried to make positives of this sad time in American life. My wife and I have eaten dinner together each night for the past two months, which we’ve never done in nearly 33 years of marriage.
I wait for her to come home from work; she’s one of those essential workers, and after she tells me the latest health news, she wants to know what’s going on in baseball.
I’ve been sharing some of the plans with her, just as I have with you.
It’s been fun recounting some great Oriole moments from the past and constructing an all-time underrated team, but it’s time for some new memories and new drama.
While I’m far from certain that there will be baseball in 2020, I’m still preparing myself for that possibility. Like players, I have a clock in my head during the offseason.
Once New Year’s arrives, I know that it’s six weeks until spring training, and it’s time to begin getting mentally ready.
Since it’s been two months since anyone has thrown or hit against authentic competition, whatever we were thinking about the Orioles we saw for the first month should probably be forgotten.
But, if and when spring training resumes, Chris Davis’ hot streak during the early Grapefruit League games is going to be a story. So will the identity of the starting rotation, but if the reports of a 30-man active roster with a 20-man taxi squad are correct, much of the drama of the last days of spring training would be absent.
What I’m missing most is not the games. In 2019, many of the early-season Oriole games were difficult to watch, and if there is baseball in 2020, the play will surely be uneven at best and ragged at worst.
I’m not missing the weather. It’s been unseasonably cold and rainy. There would have been many rain delays and some rainouts, which can make for day/night doubleheaders later in the season. They’re never fun to watch.
I’m missing the new stories, watching how the team would have been constructed in Year 2 of the rebuild. Perhaps Ryan Mountcastle would be preparing to join the major league team. Maybe some of the younger pitchers — Keegan Akin or Bruce Zimmermann, wouldn’t have been far behind.
I would have liked to make some trips to Frederick to see how last year’s top draft pick, catcher Adley Rutschman, was doing, assuming that’s where he would have been assigned.
With the minor leagues apparently near a radical reconstruction, there may not be any more baseball in Frederick, at least under Oriole auspices, and I’d miss watching games there. The atmosphere is a fun one.
I miss reading stories about trends in the games. There’s been some excellent reporting and insight under difficult circumstances as we wait, but I want to read about what’s happening now and what’s new.
I miss traveling and seeing baseball in other places. The Orioles were supposed to play in St. Louis, one of just a few places I’ve never covered an Orioles game, and at Wrigley Field. They won’t be doing that this year.
Perhaps the 2021 schedule will look a lot like the 2020 schedule, with the Orioles playing the National League Central.
The idea of the Orioles playing NL East teams to cut down on travel isn’t a bad one, if societal conditions allow. It’s great to see games in Philadelphia, one of the most underrated of all U.S. cities and ballparks. I wouldn’t mind a good cheesesteak, either.
I miss filling out my scorebook before the game. I’m one of the few writers who still uses a scorebook instead of the printed lineup sheets, and I have every scorebook I’ve used since 1988.
There are Cal Ripken’s record-breaking games, Manny Ramirez’s 500th home run, Randy Johnson’s 300th win and Josh Hamilton’s four-home run game in my collection. But there isn’t a no-hitter. Maybe with those expanded pitching staffs, I’ll see one this year.
I miss walking around the stands before the game, exercising off my pregame dinner, looking for candidates for my “Jersey of the Game” on Twitter. There won’t be any of those this year because there won’t be any fans.
In the meantime, we can hope that health conditions will allow for baseball and all the other things you enjoy this summer.
Each day, this optimist wakes up hoping to hear that the coronavirus has gone into hibernation, and that no one else I know will be affected by it. Too many people I know have been, and by now, I’ll bet that’s been the case for many of you.
Everyone has suffered in big and little ways. I’m one of the lucky ones. I just hope my luck doesn’t run out.