Mid-March, a spring training exhibition between the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida. Even before the final out, both sides had gotten the official word: Major League Baseball was shutting down immediately because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It felt like the most meaningless baseball game in the history of the sport,” Cardinals infielder Matt Carpenter said.
So now, they’ll try again.
A skewed, 60-game schedule, rather than the full plate of 162, with opening day on July 23 or 24. A shortened, contorted season ordered by Commissioner Rob Manfred on Tuesday night after billionaire owners and multimillion-dollar players couldn’t come to a new economic agreement against the backdrop of the virus outbreak.
“What happens when we all get it?” Milwaukee pitcher Brett Anderson tweeted this week.
From the start, a sprint to the finish. Got to come out strong. Remember last year: The Washington Nationals began 27-33 and wound up hoisting the World Series trophy.
Perhaps it’s the perfect setup for outsiders like the San Diego Padres or Seattle Mariners to sneak into the championship chase.
Let’s not forget those Houston Astros, either. They were the biggest story in baseball when we last saw them, with fans taunting José Altuve, Alex Bregman and their accomplices following the trash can-banging, sign-stealing scandal that made national headlines over the winter.
Some things, chances are, won’t change when the games resume.