Play (COVID) Ball!

I'm sorry, but they look like they are just a bunch of guys having a good time, albeit in masks.

The Cubs, and the White Sox, held workouts at their respective ballparks Tuesday and if they had worries in the world, their facial expressions certainly didn't show them.

I think what we have seen in the European soccer leagues the last month is pretty similar to what we will see when baseball cranks up later this month. Players follow protocols, mostly. Networks pipe in crowd sounds and singing. I think that could be especially cool on baseball broadcasts, where we could listen to organ music. Hell, it wouldn't be terribly difficult at all to make it live organ music now, would it?

I am definitely up for a couple "Da da da da, da da . . . Charge!(s)" when the Cubs get a rally going. Let's bust out all the classics, potentially one per inning.

Any player who tests positive or who is too uncomfortable opts out. No biggie. There is a supply of thousands of minor league ballplayers, most affiliated with major league clubs, who stand ready to step in. If I were Mike Trout, whose wife is scheduled to give birth in the coming months, no way would I play. But I'm definitely not Trout, who is by virtually any measure one of the five greatest baseball players of all time through the first nine years of his career.

This is Trout's 10th season in the majors. How the hell is that possible? Unbelievably at the end of all of those seasons, Trout has played in three playoff games, all losses. His team, the Angels, were swept out of a divisional series in three games by the Kansas City Royals, you know back when the Royals dominated the American League in the middle of the last decade. During that series, Trout went 1-for-12.

Not playing would torture Trout, an absolute lover of the game who cannot like what he sees when he looks back at his stats and can't help but steal a glance at the ones about the postseason. Guys like Dodgers pitcher David Price, who already have generational wealth, definitely don't have to risk anything and, I suspect, don't really love the game anymore, have already opted out. Again, that is their right.

And Price, a delightfully bright, if sometimes flaky three-year attendee of Vanderbilt, could probably better spend his time figuring out how to best to help Los Angeles. Or he could help Boston, where he won a World Series title. Or Tampa, where he started his major league career. Maybe even Nashville, home of his alma mater.

The bottom line is, if Joe Maddon and any other senior citizen manager is willing to report for work at the ballpark every day, I would think the rest of teams' staffs would be right there as well. Again, they don't have to be but my guess is they will be.

Large canopies should be strung up above, what, 30 seats behind each of the dugouts? When guys aren't in the field or in the lineup they sit back there with their individualized water bottles and their masks. If I were in charge, I would have players wear their uniforms to the park and carry an outfit for the post-game. At the end of a game, the guys who played would quickly strip down in the locker room and the uniforms would be cleaned and sanitized. They would take a second clean uniform home when they left and that's what they would wear the next day.

The guys who didn't play that day could wear their uniforms home or opt to wait until the first wave of guys finished in the locker room and then go down there and do the strip and carry as well.

Umpires wear masks and the home plate ump stands behind the pitcher. Technology calls strikes and balls. Joe West, who apparently buys into the notion that COVID-19 is just one big conspiracy, has to wear a full infectious disease suit. The guy is ornery enough that he just might survive it just to spite everyone.

From July 24 until the end of the regular season, the teams essentially stay in bubbles. There is a two-week break, then the postseason. I suspect the postseasons may be series' of games between local rivals, like a seven-gamer around here titled "The Red Line Series!" But maybe there are playoffs instead.

I have enjoyed the soccer immensely and I am confident I will enjoy the baseball as well.

Until the Cubs come on. Then I suppose I will suffer like I always have.


Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

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