DENVER — Forget for a moment that millions of protesters squished into America's downtowns, suburbs, streets and parks over multiple weeks.

Here. New York. Boston. Oakland. Houston. Anywhere and everywhere baseball is played.

To embrace the 2020 Major League Baseball season, you have to forget that part, and the part where Major League Baseball left us hanging for months.

Baseball's coming back! And its protocols for doing so are as absurd as our times demand. When the Rockies attend their New Opening Day, on the heels of protest marches that couldn’t possibly have contributed to a spike in COVID-19 cases, Charlie Blackmon won’t be allowed to bring David Dahl his glove. Or his hat. Both are against the rules established in the 101-page MLB Operations Manual designed to combat the spread of the virus.

So get your own glove, Dave. And go win MVP.

Next, no spitting. That’s right. Baseball players aren’t allowed to spit. No word if golfers can’t take a divot or Millennials can’t play video games. Ballplayers can’t spit. Next, no high-fives or chest bumps. Come to think of it, that might actually help the Rockies, who once saw Nolan Arenado bloodied when his head hit Blackmon’s helmet during a celebration at home plate. Secret handshakes will be paramount.

Also, no bench-clearing brawls. (Bud Black's a diplomat, anyway.) No chewing tobacco (the spitting thing again). No All-Star Game, and no worries there. The National League entry was going to be the Dodgers’ lineup anyway. Have you seen their lineup? Don’t look. Just trust me.

Players are advised to stay 6 feet from teammates in the clubhouse, and Barry Bonds likes that rule. "MLB will not formally restrict" players from going out on the town for meals, but the league encourages eating at the hotel. TMZ likes that rule. There definitely will be people in the stands... but they will be inactive players, who are asked to sit 6 feet apart. Hope they can score a hot dog. Players’ symptoms and temperatures will be checked twice per day.

Taking showers is discouraged.

At the ballpark.

Their wives hope.

Major League Baseball will have a 60-game season, the shortest since 1878. Opening Day is July 23 or 24, right around when Broncos training camp usually opens, so that's a plus for the Rockies. We don’t have a schedule yet. Soon, I’m told.

Anyway, let’s get weird. The .400 batting average will be in play. The fourth starter who goes 6-0 with a 1.24 ERA and wins the Cy Young is in play. Spraying down Dinger with disinfectant is in play. And with an Aug. 31 trade deadline, the Rockies trading Arenado is in play. But let’s think about this. Who’s going to take a $200-plus million contract without gate receipts and so much uncertainty right now?

Can’t see it happening.

Just like the college athletes who have returned to their respective campuses, MLB’s athletes are bound to be more protected from the coronavirus in MLB’s bubble-wrapped environment than if they lived their normal lives. (Pretty sure Trevor Story didn’t spend his Friday getting his temperature checked twice.) CDC director Robert Redfield said Thursday, in a wildly underreported revelation, that coronavirus cases may be 10 times higher than the number of confirmed cases. That means less than 1 percent of cases will be hospitalized.

Awesome news.

Back to these bizarre no-spitting, no-chest bump, no-arguing-with-umps rules. Credit the authors behind the MLB’s new guidelines. I’m serious. They deserve it. It must have taken weeks to complete, and whatever ingenuity brings sports back is greatly appreciated.

Because it's all worth it. Whatever inches us closer to a world where masks can’t hide our smiles, where high school kids can play ball again, where we are not defined by what we look like, where the only thing on Blackmon’s face is that sweet beard, where “conversations” aren’t online shouting matches... is worth it.

Play ball, for goodness sakes.

(Contact Gazette sports columnist Paul Klee at paul.klee@gazette.com or on Twitter at @bypaulklee.)

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