The Rundown: Baseball Should Embrace Empty Stadiums, Test Results Delay Sidelines Six Cubs, Cardinals Closer Opts Out

Gear up friends and family, Opening Day is just a little over a week away. How will you celebrate?

Time will tell if we will be watching something tangible and exciting or the next iteration of Faces of Death (I’m not linking the exceedingly graphic trailer, you know how to use the internet). Though I am opposed to any attempt to play the season, I tend to think that everybody will somehow be alright. Baseball will provide us with mammoth home runs, knee-buckling strikeouts, and incredible defensive plays.

If MLB can somehow nix the idea of pumped-in crowd noise, we’ll get to hear the game in a way in which we have yet to be privy.

That alone makes baseball as much an intoxicating sideshow, at least for this season, as the massively-attended spectacle we’ve grown to know and love. The sport has a genuine opportunity to market the real sounds of the game and to allow us the same perspective in its natural habitat that players and coaches enjoy. Why Rob Manfred, his Manhattan cronies, and the league’s 30 landowners would want to deny us that experience is baffling. Then again, consider the source and their obtuse respect for the game.

If the league owners can find a way to shoot themselves in the foot, they always will. Canned crowd noises are akin to laugh tracks in a sitcom. Why trade the soul of the game for the din and falsified appearance of recorded reactions?

It is my opinion, especially if the game intends to market itself to a younger audience, that allowing viewers to see the game from the bottom up is putting its best foot forward at a time where the extraordinary has already bubbled to the surface. We are playing baseball in a pandemic with players who are genuinely risking their well-being and that of their families. Let’s not hide the opportunity to see grown men truly acting like kids with an obnoxious attempt to create faux-spirit and drama.

Those players are taking the field because of their true love for the game. It would be a shame to govern or stifle that.

Cubs News & Notes

Find Your Inner Hero

Journeyman infielder Tony Kemp is with the A’s this year and the ex-Cub is leading discussion on racial injustice while driving charitable efforts for his new organization.

Apropos of Nothing

Quentin Tarantino wanted the song “My Sharona” by the Knack for the infamous gimp scene in Pulp Fiction, but the producers of the movie Reality Bites beat him to the punch, so “Comanche” by the Revels was used instead.

Odds & Sods

A funny take is always better than a hot one.

MLB News & Notes

The Phillies have officially stated they will fill the stands with cardboard cutouts and provide recorded crowd noise during their home games. “We’re trying to make it as normal as possible,” Phillies executive vice president David Buck said. Normal?

Maybe this is Buck’s definition of normal.

MLB could foster some goodwill by donating home run balls hit in empty stadiums to hospitalized children (my idea) or by auctioning them off for charity (a good idea that probably won’t raise very much except for the milestone taters). Someone send a memo to Theo Epstein with both options.

The Brewers are naming a sequence of intrasquad games starting tonight the “Blue & Gold World Series.” The purpose is to amp up the intensity level of those contests as the team gets closer to Opening Day. The Brewers have been televising all of their practice games on the local cable affiliate.

I’ve got good news and bad news for you: The Astros and Cardinals are two teams who may disappoint in a shortened schedule. Unfortunately the Cubs are also mentioned in that group.

Because he has diabetes, Cardinals reliever Jordan Hicks has exercised his right to opt out.

Baseball is set to launch a season like no other, with restrictions, rule changes and revisions to routine that will make the game look different in myriad ways.

Extra Innings

Wrigley Field is the best stadium in all of baseball. It’s okay to feign surprise or any other reaction. If you’ve got nothing I can supply a canned reaction on your behalf.

Sliding Into Home

The hits just keep on coming. I’m scheduled to have an esophageal dilation next week to “stretch and flatten” a growth that cause Saturday’s incident. The doctor doesn’t believe I have a malignancy, however.

They Said It

  • “The only concern that I have right now is how long (it takes) to get the result back. Other than that, I don’t think that I’m at risk inside the ballpark because I think the Cubs have been doing the best they can to keep us safe in here. Where I don’t feel safe is on the streets. Like walking the streets, that’s the one place I don’t feel safe. But other than that, every time that I come to the ballpark, I feel good.” – Willson Contreras
  • “There’s a bit of a trade-off sometimes between timing and accuracy. And we would prefer accuracy. And that’s what the trade-off was about it, just waiting for a couple results that weren’t clear yet to make sure they’re retested and we can get total clarity. So all in all I think we’re getting toward a really good place with the testing program, and everyone’s taking it seriously.” – Theo Epstein

Tuesday Walk Up Song

The Sounds of Silence by Disturbed (Simon & Garfunkel cover) – Or, how baseball’s landowners view a lack of audience participation while their show ponies are getting their games on.

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