The Mets made a big change yesterday. After three straight days of losing game they should have won, they finally lost a game that they were supposed to lose. It was a welcome relief from watching the bullpen melt down night after night. In Saturday’s 7-1 loss to Atlanta, we didn’t need to worry about blowing any leads or Luis Rojas making any poor decisions. Instead, Michael Wacha gave up five runs in the first two innings, and that pretty much was that. Franklyn Kilome made his Mets debut and gave the rest of the team’s relief pitchers a rest while mopping up for four innings while allowing two runs.
The only real offense the Mets put together came in the fourth and fifth innings. In both frames, New York put the first two batters on base, but not much came of it. The Mets are now 3-6 after losing four in a row, tied for last place in the National League East with the 1-2 Phillies. Both Philadelphia and Miami haven’t played all week, but they will hopefully be back in action in the next day or so if MLB’s latest schedule updates hold.
MLB designed a system that was designed to keep baseball rolling despite a couple of positive tests here or there, but that hasn’t been the case. Besides the Marlins situation in which half the team tested positive, no other group has suffered what one would qualify as an “outbreak”. And yet, the Phillies, Cardinals, and Brewers, have all been shut down for several days. Not many fans are confident that MLB can complete its season, but getting all the teams back in action this week would be a big step towards that goal.
America might not miss baseball too much if it does go away. The NBA and NHL have both restarted their seasons after months-long delays and the results have been solid so far. We haven’t had any games postponed due to positive tests so far thanks to the bubble system that has each league isolating all its players in one or two locations. Such a strategy was once considered by MLB with possible bubbles in Florida, Arizona, and Texas, but that didn’t end up happening for a variety of reasons.
Unlike with the NBA and NHL, MLB was starting its campaign from scratch and couldn’t fairly eliminate any clubs (although perhaps it should have considered a couple). There’s also the issue of a lack of indoor venues available in each state. After you consider the major league parks, there’s nowhere to play baseball without dealing with sweltering heat that might be more dangerous than COVID-19 itself. Maybe moving the bubble locations north could have worked, but that could have led to more issues. The Blue Jays are having trouble just getting Buffalo ready to play in, and that’s a venue that hosts many minor league games each season.
So baseball is stuck with what it’s got. There is a lot of finger-pointing going on with the fans blaming Rob Manfred for not being better prepared and Manfred blaming the players for not following the rules. In reality, there’s no one group who deserves all the blame for all these games being postponed. Everyone needs to do their part if MLB is going to determine a champion in 2020.
If it doesn’t work out, many critics will talk about how baseball is dying in America and how MLB won’t recover from this. No matter what the league decides to do in 2020, it will eventually return with a full schedule and full ballparks at some point. When that happens, the loyal fans will return. Even if baseball doesn’t have the national spotlight on it like it used to, and even if it’s not talked about 24/7 on every sports debate show, baseball will always have its fans.
You see it in the ballparks with all the lunatics who paid a lot of money just to have their cardboard likeness in the seats. You also see it on Twitter with all the diehards who say they will never watch the Mets again only to return 24 hours later and go through the same routine all for the small hope of some joy in the end. I still think that baseball will find a way in 2020, but if it doesn’t, that doesn’t mean that baseball is dead. It’s just giving us a nice long break from worrying if Rojas is going to bring in Edwin Diaz in a big spot ever again.