Major League Baseball and its players association finally came to an agreement last week regarding compensation a season shortened by the coronavirus. A sixty-game season is scheduled to begin in three weeks.
Most sports columnists were understandably ecstatic the owners and players were able to resolve their differences on economics. New York Post columnist Mike Vaccaro, who is usually very even-keeled, had written that baseball fans were so fed up they would give up the national pastime forever. The day after an accord was reached Vaccaro wrote how these same fans would instantly forgive players and owners and love the game forever.
I shied away from writing about the baseball labor negotiations, because to paraphrase NFL All-Pro safety Malcolm Jenkins, sports is a nonessential industry during a pandemic. Yes, the two parties signing off on labor-management issues cleared one hurdle but it’s certainly not the biggest one. COVID-19 is still out there and it’s ravaging the Sun Belt where too many politicians and residents treat wearing masks as an affront to their “patriotic freedom.”
MLB officials have to shudder at the thought of a major outbreak occurring during their mini-season. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver admitted his league’s season, slated to begin a week after MLB gets theirs going, could quickly end if COVID-19 rears its ugly head. Considering the NBA has placed all of its games in Orlando he should be extremely concerned.
There will be no fans in the stands for MLB games, making them strictly TV shows, and that’s fine. More home entertainment options are better. My suggestion for diehard fans is to minimize the emotional attachment you normally have and hope that players stay healthy.
It’s hard to take such a short season seriously. Adding to the lack of credulity is a new rule for extra innings where each team will start each frame with a runner on second base. No word yet as to how in this era of social distancing first basemen will deal with holding opposing runners trying to get a lead off of the base.
Pitchers are unlikely to bat as the designated hitter will be used by National League as well as American League teams. The thinking is this will reduce the risk of injry.
Social distancing will also be a factor in Saturday’s Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest as there will be only four competitors facing perennial champion Joey Chestnut for the prestigious Yellow Mustard Belt. It will be held inside the Nathan’s flagship restaurant in Coney Island but, as has become the all too depressing story of 2020, there will be no spectators.
See the extended version of Sports Beat every week at qchron.com.
Life and style
The COVID-19 pandemic has made everyone aware of the importance of minimizing trips to the supermarket or to restaurants for takeout. A Massachusetts entrepreneur, Michelle Zimora, has created a company, Z Wraps (myzwraps.com), which makes reusable food wraps that are better for the environment than either foils or plastics and keep food fresher for longer. Zimora claims that her reusable wraps can be washed over 100 times without falling apart. Z Wraps also makes colorful and very breathable facemasks.
HBO’s “Perry Mason,” which airs Sundays at 9 p.m., imagines the early days of Erle Stanley Gardner’s legendary fictional lawyer. In this prequel of the Perry Mason baby boomers fondly remember from the black-and-white CBS series, he is a struggling private investigator working in seedy 1932 Los Angeles.
Actor Matthew Rhys, who bears absolutely no resemblance to Raymond Burr, the burly actor who made Perry Mason the most famous lawyer in television history, gives him a Raymond Chandler-like quality.
Rhys clearly studied Jack Nicholson’s Jake Gittes character from the 1974 flick “Chinatown.” His Mason is more of an anti-hero than he is a paragon of virtue and that makes for compelling viewing.