By Lenn Robbins
It’s time for all of us to put away the rose-colored glasses and see the virus-plagued, sports-ravaged America in which we live for what it IS. Until there’s a vaccine, there can be no concerts. There can be no conventions. There can be no professional sports.
If MLB, which put its vast resources behind starting a 60-game season, couldn’t make it out of the first week without postponements, it’s obvious organized team sports can’t take place.
This hurts worse than if the season had started on time and then come to a coronavirus halt. After watching sport after sport shut down, we put our sports heart and soul into the new Opening Day, July 23rd. It didn’t matter if there were cardboard cutouts instead of fans in the stands. It didn’t matter that the crowd noise was pumped in via stadiums sound systems.
Gerrit Cole pitched wonderfully. Jacob deGrom pitched terrifically. Giancarlo Stanton homered spectacularly. Yoenis Cespedes homered marvelously. Fantasy drafts were held. Dr. Anthony Fauci went undrafted after his first-pitch performance.
We laughed. We cheered. We were uplifted. We were deflated. We were fans.
Now we’re devastated. Because it’s over. It has to be over.
And it’s up to us, the fans, to lead the way. We must stop hankering for sports, stop leaving it up to commissioners and unions to decide whether or not to play the games. We need to make it clear we won’t watch this outrageous pandemic sentence play out just as we’d be revolted to witness a state-sanctioned execution.
As of this writing, 14 members of the Miami Marlins have tested positive for the coronavirus, forcing a postponement of their Monday night home opener against the Orioles and Tuesday’s game as well.
The Yankees-Phillies game also was postponed because the Marlins just left Philadelphia and who knows what contamination Miami players unknowingly left in Citizens Bank Park. Would you change in the visitor’s clubhouse? Not for all the Lysol in the world, if you can find it.
When MLB and the players reached an agreement to start the season, the commissioner was given the authority to call a halt, “if medical experts deem that it poses an unreasonable health and safety risk to players or staff.”
We don’t need Rob Manfred. Heck, he showed up in the middle of the Yanks-Nationals game and lightning struck. You don’t think that was a signal?
The moment has arrived earlier than any sports fan feared. A mere 92 games have been played and it’s time for us to cover the field in a COVID-19 tarp. Game called. It’s over.
How can we even entertain the possibility of football players colliding in a goal line stand, or hockey players digging in the corner for possession of the puck, or basketball players crashing the lane? The virus hides in plain sight.
Consider the plight of Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez. He recovered from the coronavirus. Now he’s dealing with myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, a complication of the virus. Perhaps it’s the romantic notion of the heart in literature, or the portrayal of actors clutching their chests and collapsing, that make any cardiac condition alarming. But how can we expect any athlete to take this risk?
Are we really supposed to keep beating a sports drum and hope professional athletes, coaches, managers, support staff continue to blindly march into jeopardy? Do we dare ask college athletes, amateurs, to stuff the coffers of their universities when their quality of life can be compromised?
Are we that callous?
Of course, there are feeble arguments to be made in support of saving the baseball season and give the NBA, NHL and NFL hope. We can claim it’s early in the season, if one can even say that about a 60-game season. The Marlins took action. The Yankees took action. Let’s regroup, maybe double down on testing and masks and quarantining.
Oh right, we just spend months doing that and the season didn’t last a week without interruption.
Or one could argue that neither the Toronto Blue Jays, who can’t play any home games because Canada has chosen safety, nor the Marlins had a chance of winning the World Series so what’s the big deal? Any team not bringing Edwin Diaz out of the bullpen has a chance to win the World Series in a 60-game season.
It’s time for common sense to prevail. It’s time to boycott a season of postponements and more pandemic. It’s over.