Are you missing baseball?” a friend asked me the other day.
“A little,” I replied, “but not nearly as much as I thought I would.”
“I bet you will be excited when they start playing again,” he added.
“Well, if it is before Aug. 1, I will be, but if the entire season is canceled, and the next game is not until 2021, I think my intense love affair with Major League Baseball in general, and the Cincinnati Reds, specifically, has ended.”
“I can’t believe you would say that,” he said. “You are the biggest Reds fan I know.”
A month ago, I would not have believed it either. At that time, I recognized that the cancellation of all baseball games and virtually all other sports was because of the coronavirus pandemic, and not the sports and their players. Unlike all the games canceled by player strikes in past years, no fingers of blame could be pointed for this stoppage.
But after July 20, that will not be the case. Two different proposals for an abbreviated schedules of games plus playoffs involving more teams have been proposed and rejected, one by the owners and another by the players union. As this is written, it appears there will be a 60-game season.
For the sake of its future, baseball needs to be played in 2020. The sport already is losing fans in droves. Once described as “America's pastime,” many of today's sports fans, particularly young people, believe baseball is past its time. They may be right. I am in my 70s, and even many of my friends who are 65 or older no longer follow the sport closely.
The pandemic has shown many of the biggest fans like me that we lead happy, fulfilling lives without baseball. Instead of spending night after night watching the Reds on TV, I am reading more than I ever have and have watched more movies in the past few months that I would have otherwise not watched. A few of them I have really liked, and some were so lousy I never finished them. Most of them are somewhere in between, OK but not great.
(Of course, all of these movies have been watched on my home TV because the movie theaters have been closed because of the pandemic. But then, we rarely went to the movies anyway, so there is not much to miss.)
Yes, I miss the Reds because I thought they had the players to be a really competitive team in 2020. If all of this season was to be canceled because of the arrogance of the owners and players, then I was not going to care in 2021. Baseball has broken my heart too many times over the years. I'm too old to let it be broken again.
Reach JOHN CANNON at firstname.lastname@example.org.