I admit it that a typical 162 game baseball season is a marathon. One that I’m not ready to run even though I start out with the best of intentions. I study my team’s roster, projecting an Opening Day lineup, listening to as much MLB Network Radio on my commute to and from work. All of this lead-up and hype drives my passion for baseball and has me excited for Opening Day.
The average baseball season is a marathon.
I start the season off like any good baseball fan and watching the games, reading the post-game stories on The Athletic. For the last few seasons, my interest starts to wane. At this point in the season, the Colorado Rockies are pretty much out of the race for any playoff spot which doesn’t offer me much reason to continue watching the last two-thirds of the season. Plus just the idea of sitting down and watching a game is almost as exhausting as a marathon would be. It’s the type of fan that I don’t want to be. I’d hardly consider this a fan when I think about it.
So many times, I tune back in the middle of August and come to find out my Rockies have won a few games and are back in the hunt to make the playoffs. My dad, a die-hard Los Angelas Dodgers fan, and I start exchanging text messages as the race for a playoff spot thickens. Thinking to myself that I should have known and I have this gut feeling that I should have been watching the entire season.
COVID-19 has changed the feeling of Opening Day baseball.
But this year COVID-19 has changed not only our entire lives, but it has also changed how sports fans will watch and enjoy the games. Just the fact that baseball is back despite the many challenges that the game faces by traveling to and from different cities, the social distancing in the dugouts, no walk-off home run celebrating, and just the fact that there won’t be fans in the stands.
This year though, because of COVID-19 baseball has an abbreviated 60-game season. Every game, every night, every pitch and at-bat matters. The games of my Colorado Rockies aren’t the only ones that matter, it will be each team in the National League West. It will be even teams that aren’t in our division. There are so many storylines that have come out of the summer camp leading up to the regular season, and there will be so many more that develop over the next two months.
The 2020 MLB season will be a sprint.
You can take one look at the Toronto Blue Jays who are looking for a home stadium to play in after Canada did not approve the team to play in the Rogers Centre. Will we have our first .400 hitter since Ted Williams. The Texas Rangers are opening the season in a brand new stadium, and unable to fill it with live fans. Will baseball even be able to complete an entire season.
Just seeing if baseball can pull this off is reason enough to watch.
While the memory of going to Opening Day in 2019 with my dad is still fresh in my mind, this Opening Day will be different. We had a midwest trip planned to visit 6 baseball stadiums that we had to call off. For the first time, I don’t have to ask permission to work from home, or there aren’t 4 games playing on MLBtv on my computer while I am work. This year, there will be a second TV in my home office while I’m working. This year the hope that my Colorado Rockies will make the playoffs is even higher with the possibility of an expanded playoff and the shortened season. This year, the pressure to win your season-opening game is higher.
This is just what I need to rejuvenate my fandom of the sport. A shortened season to remind me that even during a 162 game season, there is a reason to tune in and watch.