Game On…with Rob Kriete – JULY 22

IT’S BAAAAAACK

“Play Ball!” will (hopefully) be exclaimed this week when MLB begins a remarkably unique, truncated, 60-game baseball season in Washington, D.C. As a guy who loves his routines, I cannot wait to get back to my routine of watching baseball as MLB teams navigate a season that feels more like a tournament. Rosters that start the season with 30 players, a universal DH, new rules for relief pitchers, and automatic baserunners in extra-innings are among the changes to MLB rules this season that would typically frustrate my traditionalist stance on long-standing rules. Not this season. What has been normal in 2020 anyway?

The beauty of a typical baseball season lies within a 162-game schedule. It takes six months to determine the postseason-worthy teams. Every team would experience streaks of exhilarating wins and depressing losses, be the victim or beneficiary of a bad hop and inevitably encounter and overcome injuries…in an average season. But it is 2020, and a hot streak can solidify a playoff spot, an injury catastrophic, and a bad hop could have much more significant consequences than ever before. To me, this season is more compelling than ever.

For a few moments this past weekend, I got a small sense of normalcy. I was watching the Mets/Yankees preseason game while drafting our online fantasy baseball league with mostly the same knuckleheads that began that league in 1998. I was able to get back to my beloved routine.  Perhaps it was the cold bottle of suds or the “yuck-yucks” with my buddies, but it felt good to feel somewhat normal again. (I know it wasn’t the cardboard cutouts in place of actual fans or the canned crowd noise in the game) Clearly, baseball is not essential. Yet, in a world stricken by an awful pandemic, sports offer fans a small slice of normalcy during abnormal times.

I hope you all are safe and find your “normal” as we begin the baseball season and look forward to getting all our Games On!