In the past few days, there have been some positive signs on the sports front. As the country starts to re-open amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it appears as though college and professional games are on the horizon.
The NHL announced a “Return to Play” plan, which would include the top 24 teams competing for the Stanley Cup. While no date was set for the tournament to begin, early August seems to be the target.
The NBA hasn’t released how they’ll resume their season yet, but there does appear to be a target date for getting things going. Last week, it was revealed that the league will return to the court on July 31, whether it’s to finish the regular season or begin the playoffs.
And the NFL and college football appear to be all systems go for starting their seasons on time. Teams around the league have begun reopening their facilities, while universities around the country are planning on having students on campus for fall classes.
All of this is good news. It’s a welcome bit of positivity during tumultuous times.
Of course, one league can’t quite figure out how to get out of their own way. Notably, Major League Baseball has yet to map out their plan for returning to the field and getting the 2020 season underway.
This should come as no surprise. Historically, the owners and players have squabbled more in baseball than in any other sport. Most famously, this resulted in the cancellation of the 1994 World Series, resulting in a scar that lasts to this day amongst some sports fans.
But that will pale in comparison to the wound left if MLB doesn’t play this season. Owners and players squabbling over how to divide billions of dollars, while Americans grapple with unemployment rates not seen since the Great Depression, is beyond a “bad look.” It’s worthy of people turning their back on the sport for good.
And there’s a good chance that’ll happen. For decades, Major League Baseball has owned the summer. The NBA and NHL crown their champions in early June, while football doesn’t get started with games that count until September. That has left three months for baseball to be the only game in town.
This year, that won’t be the case. Basketball and hockey will help fill some of the dog days of summer, providing a diversion until football begins. And next year, that’ll continue, as delayed starts for the 2021-22 NBA and NHL campaigns will likely cause both league’s next seasons to run through August, as well.
With something else to watch, Americans could very well decide they’re not that interested in the national pastime. Without a monopoly for three months, baseball may discover that it’s not that popular after all.
As it sits right now, I certainly won’t shed a tear if the owners and players can’t reach an agreement. As a Rockies fan since their inaugural season in 1993, it won’t be hard to find something else to fill my time.
Sure, I’ll miss opening day. But that’s become more about the party than the baseball; something else will come up as the “thing to do” in early spring.
I’ll definitely miss taking my kids to the ballpark, as it’s a great multi-generational way to connect with them. But we’ll find something else to fill that void, whether it’s another sporting event or some other activity.
But that’s about it. On the other hand, there are a lot of things I won’t miss if the Rockies don’t return this season.
I won’t miss Nolan Arenado complaining about the team not spending more money on the roster around him, especially since the gripes are coming less than a year after he signed an eight-year, $260 contract.
For one, that kind of income suggests he should probably just show up and do his job. For two, that kind of commitment from the team deserves a little loyalty in return. And for three, he knew that the Rockies operate on a smaller budget than the Dodgers, Red Sox, Yankees and other big-market clubs, so Arenado had to know that his contract would restrict what else the team could do.
I won’t miss lower downtown being infiltrated by opposing team’s fans for every series.
It was understandable when it was the Yankees or Red Sox, given that those teams don’t make an appearance in Colorado very often and have national followings. But now, it’s seemingly every team that takes over Coors Field. When did all of these Brewers fans emerge? Where have the Padres fans been hiding all of these years? Who has secretly been an Astros fan the past decade?
I won’t miss getting gouged.
Sporting events of every kind are expensive, so it’s a little bit unfair to paint Major League Baseball with this brush. But given that each team hosts 81 games per year, they do it with more frequency than everyone else. They have more opportunities to stick their fans with exorbitant pricing for parking, tickets, concessions, souvenirs and everything else being offered at the ballpark.
And I won’t miss the June swoon.
It seems like a rite of summer in Colorado. As soon as Memorial Day has passed, the Rockies show their true colors. After hanging around for a couple of months, creating a false sense of hope amongst their fan base, they inevitably nosedive in June. When the temperatures rise, the Rockies fall. It’s as predictable as an afternoon thunderstorm along the Front Range, as they’ll lose 14 out of 16, which will usually include getting swept in Miami by three pitchers no one has ever heard of, and no longer be in contention by Independence Day.
Instead, I’m perfectly content to watch the Avalanche and Nuggets make a run for a championship. No one knows how the long layoff and neutral-site games will impact either team in the postseason, but both have a legitimate chance at competing for a title.
That’ll be a more-than-adequate bridge to autumn, when the new-look Broncos figure to be entertaining for the first time since 2015. I’ll be perfectly fine watching Drew Lock, Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, K.J. Hamler, Melvin Gordon, Phillip Lindsay and Noah Fant try to jumpstart an offense that has been dormant since Peyton Manning retired.
There’s plenty of good news to go around on the Denver sports scene. The teams that are working on getting back on the court, field and ice will provide fans with a lot of excitement and joy.
So if the Rockies don’t want to get their act together and play ball, that’s okay. Quite frankly, I won’t miss them.
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