By Lenn Robbins
Let’s be honest. This 2020 MLB season, if it’s ever played, is going to come with an asterisk.
If a player gets off to a horrid start, (asterisk!) it’s because spring training was halted, throwing off his rhythm. If a player hits 25 home runs in, say, an 80-game season (asterisk!), fans will wonder if he could have kept up that pace.
Every accomplishment or failure will come with an asterisk: Yankees win the World Series – * season shortened.
It’s a can’t win season. Same with the NBA and NHL and all the other seasons that have been interrupted by this plague known as COVID-19. The season of the asterisk is the tertiary damage of the novel coronavirus.
Years from now, any athlete that misses this season won’t be differentiated from athletes that play.
So, although Mets pitcher Noah Syndegaard will not pitch in 2020 because he needs Tommy John to repair an acutely torn UCL with acute compression of the ulnar nerve, it’s the perfect season to miss. The season with the asterisk.
Don’t be mistaken. This is a sad turn for the Mets pitcher who has teased us with his Viking god-like physical stature and power pitching. It’s a sad turn for the Mets who still might be considered a playoff team but that road just got more daunting.
It’s not as if Syndegaard had a choice. The injury needs surgery and it needs it now. If all goes well, Syndegaard could be back on the mound by June of 2021.
Boston’s Chris Sale also will have Tommy John surgery. According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Sale decided to have his surgery now to avoid missing significant time in 2021.
It doesn’t matter. Five, 10 years from now, the empty stat line for Syndegaard and Sale won’t warrant a second glance. This is the season of the asterisk.