Overly Sentimental Bull$%&*: Welcome to baseball’s 2020 Opening Day

Jun 1, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; A general view of Coors Field as players take the field for photo day with fans before a game between the Colorado Rockies and the Toronto Blue Jays. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Overly sentimental bullshit.

That’s how baseball comes across when Opening Day approaches every year. And even though this year’s Opening Day was off by almost four months, it will still drip with the sappy nostalgia teams like to cram down your throat like dollar hot dogs. Field of Dreams is baseball’s guilt ridden currency and they spend it like a drunken sailor on leave.

But Field of Dreams is a lie because baseball isn’t Iowa, it’s more like downtown Vegas at four in the morning before they’ve hosed down the piss and vomit.

Yeah, I’m being super cynical about the return of baseball but it’s mainly because it should have been our reward for successfully beating down Covid-19 and we did just about the opposite. We should be there in the stands rooting on OUR Rockies, but that probably isn’t going to happen at all.

Over-sentimentality is not my thing. And this late starting season isn’t stirring up any emotions in me at all because I can’t escape the feeling that we all got robbed of a summer. (But that’s another column altogether.) Baseball usually starts when the weather turns from a wintry crapfest, to a slightly warmer, wintry crapfest and the start of the MLB season signals that change. Now it’s just advertising the change from hot weather to even hotter weather when football is supposed to start. Granted there’s not much we can do at this point, but it still doesn’t give me that sense of awe and renewal that spring baseball usually does.

And the team owners could have started this season a lot sooner but they were too busy crying poverty over lost Coronavirus revenues while telling everyone to “look over there!” when any mention of opening their books came up. They’re the people in the Creedence Clearwater Revival’s song “Fortunate Son” who when the taxman comes by, their house looks like the proverbial rummage sale. Lord, don’t they help themselves.

MLB wants you to think everything is normal in a situation that is the farthest thing from normal. Games are being broadcast with fake fan noise and it’s dumb as hell. Who needs this to enjoy a baseball game at home? You can literally see there is no one sitting there so why persist with the fantasy that people are in attendance? They’re just trying to add a dash of normalcy to these games, and while totally in their rights to think fans are mewling babies who can’t watch a game any other way, we don’t need it.

A recent Phillies exhibition game had to stop because the fake crowd noise was feeding back through the stadium speakers. Like Murder Hornets being an indication you should just stay inside forever, maybe that’s a sign the added fanfare isn’t necessary. The only sport that crowd noise truly affects the play on the field is football, but baseball doesn’t necessarily require the noise. It would be great if Nolan heard the roar of the crowd as he cranked one to deep center, but it’s not needed. That said, I do propose we hang around Blake street when the Astros are in town and boo them mercilessly through the gates.

Which gives me a great idea: Maybe pro sports can arrange something where fans can affect the pre-recorded crowd noise when the situation calls for it. Think of the crowd sound meter at Avs games but where socially distanced tailgating fans can yell and increase the volume of the piped in noise.Then at least the fans could have a stake in it.

But now MLB is toying with the idea of putting virtual people in the seats. Unless these holo-fans are making out or picking their noses, there is no real reason to have them there. It doesn’t matter one bit if you at home think there are people cheering the action on the field. No one cares about this. Let the empty seats be a reminder that we still have a long way to go in getting past this virus. Don’t sugar coat it. Just play ball and let the empty stadiums serve as a goal for what we want to get back to.

But this is pure cynicism.

As I wrote this, I realized that the first pitch of the first Rockies game of the 2020 season will be a welcome relief to what we’ve endured over the last few months. And I may be so moved, you might have to quote another nostalgic baseball movie and inform me that ‘there’s no crying in baseball.” I believe that is from the sequel to Field of Dreams, Field of Dreams 2: The Erotic Awakening of Shoeless Joe.

The Rockies open up this Friday in Texas against the Rangers and we’ve come a long way from the beginning of April when we thought there wouldn’t be any baseball at all. It’s happening. And even a cold heart like mine is starting to warm at the thought of it.

Three cheers (pre-recorded) for baseball!

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