We’ve nearly pressed through the entire offseason. News has bounced around ranging from the normal dealings like the free agent market, to the newly familiar talks surrounding COVID-19. Despite the hurdles that still remain, like for the virus to become fully contained to whether or not the MLBPA and MLB can reach some sort of resolution before the expiration of the CBA, baseball is very nearly finally back.
It seems like just a short walk ago that the Los Angeles Dodgers were wrapping up their first world championship in three decades in front of a sparsely populated Globe Life Field in Arlington. Whether or not you enjoyed seeing Los Angeles — and Clayton Kershaw — finally break through and defeat those postseason demons which have haunted them so frequently, the strangest season in the sport’s history concluded on that night, October 27.
Fast forward to now, nearly four months after Julio Urias recorded the final out and you’ll find that pitchers and catchers are set to report for spring camp. On February 17, the baseball world gets cranking in earnest again. Around a month after the initial report date a year ago, baseball — like many other sports — would shut down for an indefinite period of time. Now that the spread of the virus seems to be waning — thanks mostly to the vaccine and many peoples’ willingness to wear a mask — we shouldn’t be fearful that a similar fate will befall this Spring Training session.
After all, now we’ve seen that sports’ leagues — and everybody in general — can mostly make it work. There are still hiccups and shortcomings, bad days and worse decisions, but we press forward in an attempt to balance normal life with the precariousness of an illness which has taken nearly half-a-million American lives — that, of course, doesn’t even begin to probe the fatalities across the globe.
Alas, here we are, duty-bound by our collective consciousness and social nature to find a way. We’ve been finding a way all along, illuminating our darkened paths, sometimes with floodlights, sometimes with flashlights, and sometimes with candles. Dramatic though my words may be, they aren’t without precedent; baseball is a game which subsists on romanticization, the proclamation that its beauty is displayed by the smoothness of a double play, or how its rugged Americanism is conveyed by its ability to outlast world-stopping wars.
So, when the Washington Nationals begin to play baseball games again during Spring Training on February 28, and when the regular season begins on April 1 — against the Mets on national television, no less — in some ways it’ll feeling like nothing’s changed at all; it will be as though 2020 never happened, and like the moments we feel during those broadcasts is where we were meant to be all along. In other ways, that won’t be quite true; we’ll still remember what’s going on, at home and abroad. But in the end, the continued sight of something we’ve grown accustomed to seeing will remind us that a momentary escape is never too far away — and that a bleak reality may only temporary.