It’s Opening Day. Baseball Is Closed.


Leave it to Rogers Hornsby, who starred for the St. Louis Cardinals a century in the past, to search out the phrases that neatly match our troubled occasions.

“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball,” Hornsby as soon as mentioned. “I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”

Spring is right here, however baseball — alas — will not be. Major League Baseball had deliberate to open its gates on Thursday with a full slate of video games, unfold out from Toronto to San Diego, Seattle to Miami. It was to be the earliest leaguewide opener ever, with just a few extra off days baked into the common season and the World Series nonetheless scheduled to finish earlier than November.

“You get so close to opening day and the start of the season and it’s not here,” Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said on Wednesday. “All the work that goes into that, that’s disappointing. That’s frustrating. But you also temper it with: This is all bigger than me and us and baseball.”

Instead of games, we have negotiations, as the players and the owners try to account for service time in case the season never takes place. If a season is played, myriad details would have to be sorted: When would it start, how many games would be played and when would it end? Could there be more doubleheaders, with each game lasting only seven innings, minor league style? Perhaps neutral-site postseason games stretching into November, and maybe beyond?

It is all under consideration as baseball, like every other industry, plunges into the great unknown.

Every other season, opening day lines up well with the words of George Costanza, that infamous former Yankees executive: “Spring! Rejuvenation! Rebirth! Everything’s blooming, all that crap!” This year, the flowers may have already bloomed by the time the games start, and it might even be summer.

But when baseball returns — if it does — opening day will represent more than usual, a powerful signal that we can all resume our comfortable routines. No other sport serves as such a daily companion for its fans: at the ballpark, on TV, radio or smartphone, even just somewhere in the background.

“Our job when we come back, ultimately, is going to be bigger than the game and all of us as well,” Boone said. “As we’ve seen throughout time, sports can play a role in the healing, a diversion, a distraction, a sense of normalcy.”

We need baseball out there beyond our windows. Until it returns, we are all Rogers Hornsby.

James Wagner contributed reporting.



Source link Nytimes.com

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