At this point in the GRITTY REBOOT of America that is 2020, the lines blur between good and evil. We lose sight of who the protagonist is and start to see where the antagonist is coming from. The players association earlier this week moved the goalposts in the labor negotiations to start an abbreviated season when it seemed like we were this close to having baseball back.
The rallying cry of, “tell us when and where” rings hollow when you get what you asked for and then come back for seconds in the middle of a pandemic. Which is not to say Rob Manfred is suddenly a White Knight — He’s bungled this entire thing and has looked completely clueless from the jump.
But, as with the most intriguing dramatic narratives, the heroes and villains aren’t as clearly defined. It’s a grey area the color of the finest gruel – which is what it feels like we’ve all been eating the last two weeks. Everyone is at fault, everyone is to blame.
While the epic battle has been raging, the real threat has been bubbling under the surface. In the plot twist that literally everyone saw coming a mile away, the COVID-19 virus is set to end the season before it even starts. Not just for baseball, but for all sports in America.
This point became crystal clear over this weekend with stories of players or staff testing positive for COVID-19 emerging across the sports landscape seemingly every hour, on the hour. Let’s just list a few to give you an idea of how dire this situation is becoming:
Dr. Anthony Fauci casts doubt on 2020 NFL season without more precautions (via Yahoo Sports)
Clemson athletics’ 28 positive COVID-19 tests include many football players (Via Yahoo Sports)
So while Manfred and Tony Clark do their best to show us who hates baseball the least, the whole ordeal could be moot if the season can’t be played for health concerns. As much as we would be disappointed to miss our favorite sport, we would completely understand that for the safety of the players, coaches, and staff, not to mention their families, baseball can’t be played.
We can forgive that, but that doesn’t mean we would forget. This last month of baseball news is seared into the minds of every single baseball fan in the country. We will remember it all: The bad faith negotiating from both sides, the bickering on Twitter, the terrible optics of fights about money with millions out of work in the U.S.
In the worst-case scenario of a prolonged pandemic, we will have nothing but time and no sports to distract us from the myriad of issues we saw play out in May and June. We were held hostage by Major League Baseball and the Players Association and no amount of Stockholm Syndrome will keep us around if these fights continue into 2021.