By Rich Mancuso/ thenyextra.com
“It was very exciting just to be able to play again”
Yoenis Cespedes had to be excited. His first home run in two years Friday at Citi Field was the solo run that got the Mets a win. Jacob deGrom struck out eight on five hit ball.
Typical deGrom outing and lack of run support. But the Mets bullpen, that was a difference with Seth Lugo, Justin Wilson. Oh, Edwin Diaz got the save and that ended some questions for now.
Gerrit Cole struck out five and walked one on 75 pitches in the Yankees rain shortened opening night win at Washington. Oh, a healthy Giancarlo Stanton hit a two-run homer.
Yes, baseball is back. Baseball in New York was off to a perfect start. And this was a good sign for fans of the Mets and Yankees and some of their key components of a 60-game season got off to a good start.
And cardboard cutouts with piped in crowd noise is the norm for now. Political statements on the field, we could do without. Taking a knee for the National Anthem and Black Lives Matter insignias around the ballparks lead to more controversy.
They should stick to playing baseball. We anticipated the day when baseball returned.
Politics, with exception of a President or dignitary throwing the first pitch have been a tradition. But the Yankees caused more drama when they invited the current occupant in the White House to throw out the first pitch in an empty Yankee Stadium on August 15th.
Yes, controversy that took away the optimism for more than one Yankees fan, and that included the Bronx Borough President who was outspoken about the planned first pitch in his borough.
But that should not take away from the optimism that baseball has returned, and with hopes that a coronavirus will no longer cause a disruption in New York and around the league.
“You’ve got to be ready to go, home or away, full crowd or not,” said Stanton.”For me it was just about being locked in.”
And if Stanton, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, three key cogs in the lineup stay healthy and locked in, the Yankees will breeze through the division and head to October along with 14 other teams.
If Cespedes stays healthy and hits more of those long balls in the empty seats, if the bullpen turns it around, the Mets will be one of those teams and their chances improved with added teams to the postseason.
However, in this unusual and different season, that word consistency is important and we are talking about wins and not a loss in the column. The good signs were there for the Yankees and Mets.
You did not need a political statement to know how important it was for baseball to return. The players were happy to be back on the field as their game is heading to labor unrest. The owners were smiling as the revenue from regional and network television has returned for the moment.
“Social distancing we can only do as they tell us,” one player said.
Though, if you were an observer, as this writer was from home, social distancing in the dugouts did not appear to be practiced. Managers and coaches wore face protection. Players, some had them in the dugout.
After Cespedes home run, and his return to the dugout, there were some images of players high fiving. One of the medical protocols was to avoid that creature of habit that comes with the game.
The observing of medical protocols will take place like the adjustments players do with their swings at the plate. Pitchers, on the mound learn to adjust with a curve, fastball, or slider.
So you will continue to hear more about the protocols of social distancing on and off the field. The distancing of media from the players that are confined to the press box. The broadcasters are distancing in different booths and calling games off television monitors as teams go on the road.
Such is baseball in 2020. We will adjust and live with the changes these next few months.
What awaits will be determined. The first few games in normal times would not determine a season. This year, though, and because of the circumstances those beginning games on this schedule could determine where they go.
And this was a good start for the Yankees and Mets. Saturday was game two and 48 more to come.
Cole and deGrom, two of the best pitchers in the game. Stanton and Cespedes healthy and could hit a good amount of home runs. Edwin Diaz and the Mets bullpen have passed the first test.
We have waited for this moment, though not a normal season that has been accepted and that is a good thing.
Comment: Ring786@aol.com Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso