Opening Day

It's July 23, Seattle Mariner fans -- and you're tied for first place today!

It's July 23, Seattle Mariner fans -- and you're tied for first place today!

Yes, those two sweet words will be heard later today: “Play Ball!”

And for a good many of us, that doesn’t mean football, basketball or soccer. It’s baseball … and it’s finally here. It's opening day!

In a strange sort of way.

The sport has a habit, in the last few years, of shooting itself in the foot and it certainly did that this summer. It could have had the sports spotlight all to itself for at least a month by settling its silly labor dispute.

But enough of moaning about what could have happened, the good thing is that we will have some games to watch. The pandemic has robbed us of minor-league baseball and that’s a shame, but the big leagues are playing.

I’m not sure exactly what the limited schedule is going to do to this season but we’re making adjustments in all parts of our life because of COVID-19 and this is certainly not one of the important things we need to fret about.

But did I say strange? Yes. Consider:

  • Playing 60 games instead of 162 is a big advantage to less-talented teams. Flukes happen in all sports and a few mediocre teams will probably be able to put together a playoff-worthy 60-game run.

  • The mega-talented teams -- basically, as it’s been for most of my long life -- are the Dodgers and Yankees and they could pay a price for a short season. The more games teams -- and players -- play, the more opportunity there is for the laws of average to play out. A small sample size can mean crazy samples.

  • And speaking of that, there is a possibility of seeing someone hit .400. Not a great chance, but a whole heck of a lot better in 60 games than over 162.

  • Players will get sick with the virus, I'm afraid, just as they probably will in the NBA and NHL. The numbers say it’s bound to happen, but I think Major League Baseball is at the biggest risk of not being able to finish its season because it didn’t go to a bubble concept.

  • If there won’t be fans in the stands, there is no real reason to travel all over the country with your players risking contact with virus carriers. The sport should have put one league in Florida, one in Arizona and played in spring-training venues.

  • I’m not a big fan of putting a runner at second base to begin extra innings, as is going to be done. Long extra-inning games aren’t a big problem -- but pace of play is. And that’s what should be dealt with in these games. Let’s get in the box and on the mound and PLAY!

  • No spitting, which sounds great but I will have to see it to believe it. Well, actually, I don’t want to see it.

  • It has a chance to be a very wacky season, but consider this, fans of the Seattle Mariners: It’s July 23 and you are in the pennant race! In fact, you are tied for first place!

  • Well, you are also tied for last place, but who cares? Play Ball!