America's Pastime
Photo Credit: MLB

Longing for the Return of America’s Pastime In 2020


The pitch, the swing, the pop of the glove. Fast as the speed of light it seems, the ball disappears into a dancing blur of motion.



America's Pastime
Photo Credit: Los Angeles Dodgers

The sweat pours, the clenching of the game within reach. Just one base hit away from jubilation or an out to send the world into despair. The pitch, the swing, the crack of the bat, and the ball explodes into oblivion. A hero emerges, a king among men, a celebratory lap, a victorious salute, a walk-off home run.

This is what the world is missing right now, the excitement of “The Show.” What might have been taken for granted in the past or often complained about, Major League Baseball’s 162 game season (where you have baseball almost every day until October), unfortunately, has been completely diminished as we wonder if baseball will even come back at all this year. While everything is up in the air at the moment due to the world’s pandemic, there is a battle brewing in a big bad way, and it’s getting nasty.


The return of sports is easier said than done.


As a fan, of course, I want the return of baseball, once called “America’s favorite pastime“. But the truth is it’s getting more complicated than ever. The biggest priority going forward is safety, first and foremost. With the reopening of baseball there comes the risk and the fear of the virus spreading.

Factor in that certain states still have a stay at home order in effect and the possibility that some states will only allow a certain amount of occupancy, and the landscape of baseball could look very different for the coming season. It could very well mean that baseball could be played in empty ballparks. But while that is protecting the fans, will the players be properly protected?


America's Pastime
Photo Credit: MLB

Last week, news broke by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, which included a leaked email showing a draft of MLB’s COVID-19 testing and safety protocols in a 67-page document, that was delivered to the Major League Baseball Players Association. Changes can still be made as it isn’t set in stone and needs MLBPA approval before it would take effect.

Since it is a draft, not many players had even seen it yet when it was released to the public. To clarify, this isn’t official, but the document is a long and complicated read of all kinds of possible plans to comply with the guidelines of safe distancing. Here are a couple of highlights of some of the proposals:


  • Regular testing will be for all players, managers, umpires, and all essential workers.
  • All players on arrival must undergo “intake screenings.” Temperature and check body fluid and blood samples.
  • Each club will have a designated testing area and a dedicated isolation area where, if someone tests positive, they can isolate and relocate to home or a medical facility.
  • Limiting 50 players per club (Spring Training)
  • A vast amount of facility restrictions limiting to only essential groups. Sports drink coolers will be off-limits; everyone must have their own personal drinking container.
  • No spitting, using smokeless tobacco, or sunflower seeds in restricted areas. Any physical interactions such as high-fives, fist bumps, and hugs must be avoided at club facilities.
  • Players and on-field personnel must wash and sanitize their hands after each half-inning or handling of equipment.
  • Only necessary players will be allowed in dugouts.


It goes on and on, but here is where it gets interesting. In regards to travel, players will be essentially isolated in their hotels, and socializing with family or friends is discouraged. That’s right. This is going to be a red flag for any human being which very well could cause all kinds of psychological stress for anyone involved.

You add that on top of the risk of contracting the virus, and people are going to have a hard time going along with this. It goes without saying that Rob Manfred has his work cut out for him to get all these cogs to work just right to operate this machine. Therein lies the rub.


You have two major factions in this civil war-like battle that is on the cusp of turning the league upside down.


The organizations and its players, and well, their agents. Like all things in this world, it comes down to money and profit.  Both sides have been negotiating contracts because of this current climate, leading to the players agreeing to a prorated salary struck at the end of March. Meaning if teams play an 81-game schedule, players will get 50% of their agreed-upon salary.


America's Pastime
Photo Credit: Fox News

Then the owners of the teams came with another demand. They want the players to agree to a 50-50 revenue share since a ballpark full of fans seems unlikely; each team will likely face a hit economically.  As you can guess, players don’t seem to be too thrilled about it. 

In a video that went viral and is still causing a debate amongst fans, Tampa Bay Rays ace Blake Snell voiced his opinion on the matter. Snell was streaming on his Twitch channel “classiclyfamous,” and someone brought up the proposed 50-50 split and he bluntly responded:


 No, I’m not splitting my revenue, I want all mine. Y’all got to understand, too, because you are going to be like, “Blake, play for the love of the game man. What’s wrong with you? Money shouldn’t be a thing.” Bro, I’m risking my life. What do you mean? It should 100 percent be a thing. If I’m going to play, I should be getting the money I signed to be getting paid.


Trevor Bauer of the Cincinnati Reds is no stranger to Twitter and also discussed his opinions with people on the matter: “The “right” thing is honoring the agreement we have had in place for months. Players are ready, willing, able, and excited to play. When MLB wants to honor the agreement they agreed to, there will be baseball.”

He also posted a reaction video on episode 11 of his series “Business Casual” with his agent Rachel Luba, which was very honest and revealed the business of baseball and broke down the return to play proposal.  As players, they have every right to stand up for what they believe is appropriate. So all we can do is sit back and hope a solution can be found.


As fans, we are stuck in the middle like a child watching their parents argue, and we just hope it doesn’t lead to divorce.


America's Pastime
Photo Credit: NBC Sports

One thing is for sure: the silence of the empty ballparks is deafening. I long for the days where fans can be heard in unison singing, “Take me out to the ballgame” during the 7th inning stretch, that chorus of boo’s when an umpire misses a strike call, or the cheers when your favorite players come to the plate.

Spring Training and the hope it brings for fans and their favorite teams is something people look forward to. The long winter wait after the World Series feels like an eternity, and all we have is hope–hope our teams will be better next year.  This is the longest winter ever.


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-Josh Rushford – Franchise Sports Media

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