It kind of seems like the 2020 Major League Baseball season just started, doesn’t it? All of a sudden, we’re looking down the barrel of the playoffs and perhaps more importantly to Washington Nationals’ fans, the offseason.
It certainly hasn’t been the season that fans in and around the DC area hoped for or expected, but words like “moratorium” or worse, “autopsy” are quite bleak; for that reason, I’ll try to eschew them in the coming paragraphs. On the other hand, rosy perspectives are hard to conjure, as well; an attempt at such a piece would be unfruitful and, frankly, insulting to our fine readers.
If you’ve read any of my work over the course of the season, then you know I’m not one to sugarcoat the goings-on at Nationals Park and abroad — that’s not going to change in this piece. Indeed, the 2020 season was supposed to be a cathartic, spell-bounding season fresh off a 2019 World Championship, in which the Nationals competed heartily for the National League East division, doing battle with their division rivals.
But the coronavirus pandemic had other plans, as we all know by now. For a period of time, it looked as though the Nationals wouldn’t get to go on their victory tour, period. And now, in the twilight of the season, the sun setting on a year mangled by injuries and underperformance, perhaps many fans wish that the sun never rose at all.
Yet, here we are. I write this token of the season early Tuesday morning, while the Nationals are 21-32, last in the division, and a season for naught is nearly over. But the sun is rising over a brisk start to the day; a blue jay shrieks outside my window, and cars are going by as if it’s any other day, in any other year. In many ways, it is, of course. Despite the lingering of a continuing pandemic, much of what we write about here doesn’t affect many people at all, and not in a meaningful way, certainly.
As frustrating as this season has been at times, and as we’ve grudgingly trod through the muck and mud, baseball did return, which is something we were all excited about, as I recall. The season was slated to start with a marquee matchup: The New York Yankees and newly threaded Gerrit Cole were setting their sights on the nation’s capital to take on Max Scherzer and the defending champion Nationals.
The tenor of the night would come to be incompatible with the rest of the season. An evening in which we were overwrought with the prospect of what could be eventually culminated in a fizzle to close out one of the strangest seasons in baseball history.
But ah, if there’s one thing I know about baseball — and more particularly, baseball fans — it’s the ability to recapture and to be recaptured; what I mean is, despite the lackluster results on-field in 2020, and despite the lingering aging veterans and minor league system quandaries, once 2021 rolls around — hopefully with fans in attendance — many of us will be there, ready to do it all again. And whether it ends in futility or jubilation, we’ll return the following year.
That’s just what we do.
I’m reminded of all the times I’ve heard my father say that he was done with his particular rooting interests — and that this time, he meant it — only to return to the television at the conclusion of the offseason, ready to see what the new slate of games brought.
We’ll be back next year, and the year after that, and the year after that until, eventually, the 2020 season is nothing more than a unique footnote in history.