Thursday, June 4, 2020

A 50-game baseball season would be a travesty

Apparently, the NBA has a plan: Hold a dizzying set of playoffs, beginning in July, to distill 22 teams into one championship bracket, at the Magic Kingdom. Forget the regular season - a tiresome blah of exhibitions anyway - and let the best teams fight it out in short series. After all, pro basketball was always about do-or-die moments - the final minutes of the final games. That's what separated Michael Jordan. That's where Lebron became a legend. And it will work. Even without crowds, these games will captivate the nation. 

Alas, baseball has no such option. 

The poetic beauty of baseball has always been the length and breath of its long summer pennant race. Favorites stumble in April, catch fire in July. The phenom hits .350 in May, then enters his first soul-crushing slump in June. Heading into September, the race exhausts players and fans, and the great ones carry teams on their backs, as the end nears.  

There is nothing like a pennant race. 

It lives like the summer itself - endless, beautiful, always changing. It brings heroes and goats, miracles and tragedies. We still remember Yankees - Greg Golson, Slade Heathcott, Pat Kelly - for moments that inscribed them into our hearts. Long, hot seasons came to a point, and they delivered. That's baseball. 

A 50-game season? Shoot me. Has anyone really considered such an atrocity? 

A 50-game season barely allows pitchers time to get into shape. 

A 50-game season means rookies who never even go twice around the league.

A 50-game season means a slow-starting team can be done by the second month - (though, let's face it: expanded playoffs will destroy most of the drama, anyway.)

I'm sorry, folks. A 50-game season will flat-out suck. 

In today's Gray Lady, Bob Costas says in an interview that the lords of the game must move swiftly to save the 2020 season. I appreciate Costas' concern. Last year, when he broadcast a few Yankee games on YES, I came to realize how much I missed him. (You don't know what you got 'til it's gone, right?) 

Writes Tyler Kepner: 

A mini-season, in theory, is better than no season at all. But this seems as if the players would be dragged back to work for a mad dash to the postseason money spigot, even if some of them have concerns about the health risks. Under those circumstances, baseball could forfeit any good will bounce it might have gotten.

Amen. To save a meaningful pennant race, baseball needed to settle its differences last month. Instead, the owners and players went to their corners and played the old game of brinksmanship: Hold firm, clutch your wallet, and see who blinks first.

Well, I am hereby blinking. 

No 50-game season. That's no plan. They should all fuck off and come back in 2021.  


DickAllen said...

You speak my mind.

Blind Robin said...

When you consider baseball's cultural presence the asterisk is always a history lesson. Play the 50.

HoraceClarke66 said...

You're right, Duque. And a great tribute to the Long Season.

JimmyEatsHotDogs said...

Crystal Ball sez...... Sorry No Baseball in 2020!

No fans in the stands why bother!

JM said...

I still think they should play games on obviously amateur-level fields, some well-distanced fans in the rickety wooden bleachers, paint peeling off the dugout walls. No clubhouse, no trainer's room, no showers, even. Just a bunch of young guys playing baseball, egged on only by a desire to win and a number of handclaps from the crowd you can actually count.

It's silly, I know. No radar guns, no blaring music, no "excitement"-inducing audio stabs to promote chanting and cheering. Just baseball. With a low chain link fence around the outfield with hand-painted distance signs, if that.

This is the perfect opportunity to reconnect with the roots and grace and fun of the sport, cut off from corporate bullshit. I like to think it will actually make the game more popular again. And it's the only scenario I can see that might make lemonade out of a 50-game lemon.

Anonymous said...

A few thoughts...

1) Let them play. We don't have to care - or we can. It's an aberration no matter what. But, if I was an athlete with a limited shelf life, (and they all are) I would want to play.

2) Let them play. We can watch or not. But it would be treated as entertainment, period. It would lack the sacred aspects of the game.

That said, it is an entertainment product. It's truncated form would still be baseball. It just won't matter as much to us. I would still root for the Short Season Yankees vs the Short Season Red Sox. Same players. Same rivalry.

3) There is a danger however. A shortened season with expanded playoffs might some how become the norm particularly if it is an economic success. 81 games is probably the magic number. The game is dying. 162 is too long to be sustainable. Plus who know if stadiums will ever be allowed to be packed again. A three month season and then the excitement of the playoffs. It works for the NBA. This would suck but I could see it happening.

4) Play anyway. All of this, like so much else this year is out of out control. We might as well get something we like because there's not a lot of that going around these days and life has never felt shorter.

Doug K.

13bit said...

I'm with you Duque. Fuck this shit. 2020 is already officially the year from hell in more ways than one. Let's add "no baseball season" to the list so that, one day, we can look back, slap our knees, and say "Oh more thing...BASEBALL WAS CANCELLED THAT YEAR..."

Anonymous said...

I think they should play, if both sides can get their heads out of their asses and find a way to work out the numbers. Any baseball is going to be better than no baseball at all. I think they're going about it all wrong, though. If it's a short season, it should be like the old days. American League pennant winner versus National League Pennant winner. Only one postseason series, ending before Halloween. What they're considering, a battle royale postseason, is just going to take too long. Unfortunately, I don't think we need to worry about the playoff format right now. Doesn't look like there will be any baseball this year.

The Hammer of God

13bit said...

Combine all the players into 8 teams with rosters of 150 each. Let all the team managers alternated games.

Two leagues of 8 teams each. 154 games, but all day/night doubleheaders over the course of July/Aug/Sept

Each league has a championship, the winners play for the "Series," everybody gets a trophy no matter what, lots of injuries, meaningless records for the record books, lots of asterisks, no live fans, everybody getting fat at home watching silent games.

Fun fun fun till her daddy takes her t-bird away...

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