Can you remember way back to March 12 of this year? Yes, I know that seems like a galaxy far, far away at this point. That date was the last day of MLB Spring Training games before baseball pulled the plug on itself.
Now we head into uncharted waters with a short Summer Camp starting this week as players are supposed to report on Thursday and hit the field on Friday. This will lead into a three week Summer Camp, a two-month regular season, a one-month playoff run and no minor league season. However, some hand-picked minor leaguers are part of a 60 man pool from which those not on the active roster will be allowed to workout at the University of Houston and Corpus Christi Hooks facilities.
We are entering a Twilight Zone of a season. Here are some random thoughts…..
- It was announced that one of the Astro players had tested positive for COVID-19, but for the players’ privacy, it was not announced who that was. However, if the Astros report and one man from the 40-man roster (38 in actuality) does not appear, it is a good guess who that is.
- So far no Astro has opted out of the 2020 season due to concerns about their own underlying health issues or those of their immediate family. Players such as Ian Desmond and Ryan Zimmerman have already chosen to opt out. Players can choose to opt out even without underlying health issues for them or for their immediate family, but without pay. Will any Astro choose to skip the season?
- In the Astros 60-man roster pool there were 30 pitchers shown, only three who pitch with that “other” hand, Cionel Perez, Framber Valdez and Blake Taylor. That lefty-righty split is so out of whack it is utterly amazing. Will the front office under new GM James Click address this?
- A big question is how many innings will the starters be able to build up to in the three weeks allowed to them. Right now, published reports state that teams will be allowed three exhibition games, which would likely be against a team training close to them or … the team they open the season against. This means that a lot of the buildup will be done with intra-squad games. But in the end, the top pitchers may get three or four starts before the season starts around July 22-23. Maybe they get up to four or so innings by the time the season starts. And Lord help them if they have some stiffness or whatever in those three weeks.
- How will the players and manager respond to being immediately flung into a pennant race the moment the season begins? If a good team comes out and goes 1 win 5 losses in their first six games will they fall apart from the pressure? The manager will already be managing differently between starting the season with 30 players available (and a 3 man taxi squad with them on the road) and with the minimal preparation time for the starting rotation. How else will they manage this differently? Will these games be interminably long with a ton of pitching changes along the way? (Not good for us central time zone fans watching 90% of the road games in the Mountain or Pacific time zones).
- How jazzed will the players be as they fight for the pennant night after night in front of their teammates and a handful of other team employees, reporters and broadcasters? Most of these players have not played in front of this few people since high school or Little League.
- How will we the fans remember and judge this season? It already is the most unusual circumstances we have faced in our lives. Will we consider this a legitimate season and the winner a legitimate champion? We may if it is our team and perhaps not if it is someone else’s team.
Still, real baseball is within reach and that is a more comforting thought than many we have had for a while.