There just isn’t much precedent. 1995 started late post-lockout, 1981 had two halves post-strike, it is almost as if we are getting the sixty games that ownership gave up when they shut down in August of 1994 to balance some cosmic scale.
In 1968, Opening Day coincided with the funeral of Martin Luther King Jr. and the players took a stand and ownership capitulated – the season started the following day. So when the fans jawbone that the game should be beyond politics, remind them that all the pomp and tradition has politics deeply woven into it.
The circumstances this time are somewhat dire. The fantasy leagues and fan site traffic are all kaput, circling a drain, wondering if there can be a revival to what it all once was. The thrill of intrasquad game “Summer Camp” was what some philosophers might call the negative sublime. Yawn.
But now the real games start – kind of shocked Idiot Manfred didn’t dust off Bud Selig’s legacy-smacking “This Time It Counts™” slogan, but here we are. And when i say we I mean us, the fans. For all the analysis and commentary, it is ultimately about and for us. What is our role?
Well here at CTPG our role is to not be Dodger fans pretending to care about the Angels. Our role is to be the voice of the fan that should be in the stands. Are you at Costco today buying a flatscreen for tomorrow’s opener or are you unemployed and worried, listening on the car’s AM radio? The wave of chaos soaking this country will be unavoidable this year. If you can swagger with the “I come to sports to get away from it all” you are probably better off investing in your own gaming this year. 2019 is as removed from 2020 as Brad Ausmus is from Joe Maddon. And like our dearly departed “twice thru the order” mentality, we are never going back there. The game reflects that “We The People” are moving… now I would like to hope we are moving forward but that might be editorializing. We are moving somewhere and let’s hope it is good. But wherever it is, we the fans are going to cheering and commiserating and booing and lamenting and yelling in ecstasy.
So the role of the fan in 2020 is to be an engaged audience. There are too many places online for divisive political discussions. But there is a cowardice and a shameful privilege to pretend that the issues of our times are to be ignored. The role of the fan in 2020 is to engage the game as the main course of a long-awaited buffet and know that there is some saltiness out there that is probably unavoidable but isn’t going to kill us. In fact, if we do it right, if we engage with an open conscience and an integrity built in to our discussions, it will make the dessert at the end of all this that much sweeter.