By Rich Mancuso. Thenyextra.com
So what does a baseball writer do as ballparks remain dark ? There is only so much you can take of keeping track as the players and owners take their stand about a possible 2020 season.
We write about the possible optimism. We write the next day, about pessimism, and the situation is we are without baseball. Think about the ramifications and ask the question, will baseball survive this gridlock as a global pandemic continues?
Baseball personnel are not sure when this gridlock will end. Others, personnel, that are employed with seasonal jobs and depend on a baseball season for a paycheck, are not sure. Fans are losing interest and don’t want to hear millionaires and billionaires arguing about dollars and cents.
MLB completed a five-round amatuer draft last week. Instead of 40 rounds that left many prospects in the dark. College and high school baseball is still on hold. Professional umpires got their last paycheck from MLB at the end of May.
And yeah, it makes no sense. We want baseball but not a 50-game season that would resemble a sandlot league, because the game is known for streaks. A truncated season could put a team out of contention with a losing streak right out of the box.
So with all of this in mind, and with the daily routine of a writer being denied, it was time to say hello to the ballparks. It was time to venture and hear the quiet that surrounds Citi Field and Yankee Stadium.
This week, though, both ballparks would have been dark. The schedule called for the Mets to play at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The Yankees were set to open a two-game series at Pittsburgh and move on to Minnesota.
And, yes, we have adjusted to these gaps in the schedule where both local teams are either on the road or at home at the same time because of interleague play,
But this was no baseball and not caused by the schedule.
Packed the bag with the laptop and all the necessities needed for a ballgame and wore the face mask. Boarded the 6 train to 125th Street and transferred to the 4-train 161 Street and Yankee Stadium.
Different feel of an empty train heading to the ballpark, Immaculate train cars and stations due to the MTA guidelines of constant cleaning and disinfecting.
No fans on River Avenue and establishments that depend on Yankees home games closed. Headed up the stairs to Babe Ruth Plaza. And this writer passed by Gate 4, the press gate, in what would be the first step of the process to cover a game in the Bronx. Closed door and one security guard seen at the front desk.
One walk around Yankee Stadium. Visions of a home run being hit, roar of the large crowd, but a reality the game is dark and the doors are closed.
Back to the 4-train and that walk past Heritage Park, site of the old Yankee Stadium. Gates locked, though some managed to get on the fields and hit some baseballs on grounds that need maintenance.
So, with envisions this was one of those and more normal day-night home games of Yankees and Mets, time to get the 4 train to Grand Central.
Subway Series? No, but a trip to Flushing and Citi Field. Grand Central to the 7 train and Citi Field. Clean and immaculate train station at Willets Point and similar to the number 4 and 6 lines with very few passengers. First noticed that the parking lots were empty as Citi Field appeared from the window, and those temporary tents that were used for COVID-19 cases were gone.
Cifti Field, passed by the Hodges Gate which is the entry point for the media. Nobody home. Baseball was not going to be played today. Walk around the street now known as “Seaver Way ” and peek through the bullpen gate by the outfield area.
No fans, empty stadium. And the airline traffic at nearby Laguardia Airport was quiet. Welcome to the pandemic that has curtailed airline traffic.
One walk around Citi Field and a look at the outfield sign that says stay healthy and see you soon. The pavilion areas were quiet. Imagined the crowd roar from another Pete Alonso home run ball, a pitching gem from Jacob deGrom.
Said hello to a security guard that is used to seeing yours truly. He is one of a few that is employed to secure the ballpark.
This was a double dip and conclusion of another day without baseball. But it was a remedy to rid the void of no baseball.
As of Tuesday, players and the league are at a standstill. The days pass and time is clicking on the clock. One day there is optimism and the next all hopes are gone.
Some do say that there will be a baseball season and two sides will eventually come face-to-face and litigation will wait. Others, like me, don’t care at this point. It has got to this point of a vision as to what could have been an exciting 2020 baseball season in New York.
Regardless, the game is in trouble and has changed with the dramatic structure of economics. We as a society are continuing to adjust with the change and hope for the best.
In the end, though, it may not happen, we all want baseball. The Summer is not the same. But you can always take that walk around the ballparks and envision the way it should be.
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