These days, during the regular baseball season, pretty much every game is broadcast on TV by someone, so it doesn’t take a lot of effort to see every game your team plays (it generally just takes money). But during Spring Training it’s rare that a game your team plays is televised.
So I was looking forward to watching a Twins game yesterday — one of those rare Spring Training games that was being televised. After several months of winter (and no baseball), I’m ready to start seeing games again.
But I turned on the TV to discover the MLB cancelled Spring Training!
(FWIW, my guess is the hyper-vigilant state we’re entering now will be instrumental in mitigating the effects. Hopefully in three months or so we’ll be looking back at this as a near miss and cautionary tale.)
There is talk about this author or that author having predicted this, and it’s true there have been stories and movies that eerily fit the current circumstances (Contagion, which is very good, is the one everyone is re-watching now).
But this scenario has always been on the shortlist of Reasons Why Humanity Buys It. Given a global economy and an easily mobile population, a virus is always a major concern.
Remember what happened to the Gros Michel. It is no more. We just have to hope humanity has enough genetic diversity to survive something like that. (We are diverse, but we are just one species with far more in common than not.)
We can be very thankful this virus seems to ignore children. One of the greatest tragedies in life is outliving your child. It shouldn’t work that way.
But as a baby boomer, I’ll need to be careful.
There is a irony here: It affects the supporters of the Liar in Chief, Twitler, who was telling them it was all fake news, a hoax, no big deal. Given the inability of the system to reject this corrupt splinter, has nature risen to the occasion? They do refer to it as the “body politic.”
Anyway, the MLB has cancelled all Spring Training games and delayed the start of the season for “at least” two weeks.
This has a huge impact on starting pitchers, which are key to any game. These pitchers work themselves up to pitching, each day throwing a bit more until they can throw 100 pitches or so.
Now they’ll have to ramp down — can’t stay at that level without games — and then they’ll need advance warning to start ramping up again when (and if) the season begins.
In general, baseball players need to train, so this break really throws a monkey wrench into the works.
There are also questions about whether baseball should start without allowing people to attend games — broadcast only. And what’s it like to play a game without a crowd? (The Baltimore Orioles found out in 2015. Silent and weird.)
Bottom line, it’s not impossible the baseball season this year will be shortened, or very weird, or maybe even entirely cancelled. It all depends on what happens in the next month or so.
Most other sports, from high school on up, have ended, cancelled, or postponed, their seasons. Scheduled conferences are almost all being cancelled. Disneyland is closing. The list goes on.
I have a friend (Bentley’s mom) who works in the live theatre industry, and she’s seeing shows cancelled left and right, plus Broadway has gone dark. Lots of people are starting to fret about possible layoffs.
There is a hotel sub-industry involving small conference rooms in airport hotels. Air travel allows businesses to fly people into a random city for a quick face-to-face (which so many studies have shown is better), and they fly out that day (or spend just one night).
That industry is being hit hard right now (as is the airline industry), but there is some thought corporations will never do business that way again. Despite the perceived disadvantage, online conferencing may be the future. (It already was growing for economic reasons.)
Working from home, which was also on the rise for economic reasons, may also become much more the default. (I recall the fights I had with The Company over my working from home. I was ahead of my time there.)
Major epidemics can alter the course of a society, and it’s just possible (assuming we survive this mostly intact) COVID-19 will be something of a game-changer.
So we’re all being reminded to wash our hands while singing Happy Birthday. And to socially isolate (which many of us have been practicing for).
We’ll see what happens. Remember the Y2K and Ebola scares. They didn’t end up destroying society, but a large part of that was due to people taking it seriously and doing the work that needed to be done. There are signs we’re doing that now, although the current administration isn’t reacting as well as we might hope.
But one truth is that previous administrations and economic concerns have undercut the CDC and other agencies that we really need right now. We’re once again playing catch up.
We’ll just have to wait and see.
I feel especially sorry for Corona beer, which — believe it or not — has taken a sales hit because people, god love’m (’cause it’s hard for anyone else to), are associating the beer brand with the virus. [sigh]
Personally, I’m not a fan of the beer (although it’s tasty on a hot day), mostly because it comes in clear bottles, which means it’s usually light-struck (which makes it smell skunky). Buying it is always risky. (Likewise with an old favorite of mine, Newcastle Brown Ale.)
Anyway, it’s going to be weird for a while. As someone on the MLB channel said last night, “We’ll have to get used to not being used to stuff.”
Buckle in. Strange times ahead.
Stay isolated, my friends!