Baseball is a game that impacts the lives of millions. The game is part of the fabric of America. We live it every day. Baseball helped the country during WWII and was a huge part of healing after 9/11. Now, an encore is possible.
There are weekly rumors on when and how baseball will return this year. No one really knows. If it does, it will be different. That we know. We’ve been told we’re heading for a new normal and it may last well into 2021.
Well, here’s a peek at new normal baseball. It may be viewed as serious, creative, silly, crazy or stupid. Perhaps humorous. Perhaps not. Hey, sometimes you swing and miss.
**Games will be played in empty ballparks somewhere. Yep, no fans. Studio ball.
**Pre-game player introductions on the field will stretch from home plate to the foul polls. Social distancing.
**But wait! Why introductions if there are no fans? Because that’s baseball.
**Four human umpires stand 6’ apart for the National Anthem. Why? You should know.
**Why an Anthem in an empty ballpark? Hearing our Anthem will be a welcome indication of some normalcy.
**All games will be on radio, TV, internet. Americans are anxious to escape virus updates.
**Announcers are limited to 2, separate booth for each. Social distancing? Yep.
**Every person in the ballpark will be required to wear a mask, including those on the field. New normal.
**Catcher/home plate umpire wear 2 masks. Larry Andersen and his masks? Sorry LA.
**Using a megaphone, bench coach will announce the starting lineup, batters, changes in game.
**Players will dress/shower in their hotel or at home.
**Visiting team will need a fleet of busses to transport the traveling party. Once again, space distancing.
**Each uniform will include a patch, “Thank You. Healthcare Heroes.” This should carry into next year if there is no this year.
**Teams will have a 40-player roster. 30 dress for a game, other 10 #StayAtHome. Roster changes next game.
**Triple-A teams will be playing at spring training complexes in Florida/Arizona. Emergency players, so to speak.
**Coaching staff limited to 5 per game. Staff changes for each game.
**Only manager, 4 coaches, starting 9 allowed in dugouts during games. Again, social distancing.
**Bullpens begin game with 1 coach, 2 catchers, 8 pitchers. Why? New normal space distancing.
**Those players not in the starting lineup or bullpen will be seated in field level seats for same reason. They’ll be busy — retrieving foul balls and holding up signs, “Strike Him Out,” “Yoo-hoo, everybody hits”, “Kill The Ump”, “Boooooo”, “Wash Your Hands.” On second thought, can “Kill The Ump” posters.
**Extra players will carry a mini cooler filled with water and health bars. They’ll have to raise their hand if they need to go to the bathroom. One of the coaches will be an acting principal.
**Oh no! We have a new pace of game hurdle. Manager texts for a pinch hitter who is in the stands. There’s a delay because the player is sound asleep.
**Designated hitter for every game. It’s gonna happen one of these years so start now.
**Piggyback pitchers. Joe Jones starts today and pitches 4 innings. Sammy Samuel follows for 4 innings. Five days from now, Samuel starts and Jones follows. Steve Carlton would not have liked this.
**Replays are “trash canned?” Why? Only essential employees are needed.
*With no replays will entertaining arguments return. Maybe “entertaining” doesn’t fit as managers and umpires must be 6’ apart. Fans were entertained with those nose-to-nose, bulging neck vein, finger-pointing arguments.
**Mound conferences eliminated. Social distancing.
**No brawls, high fives, belly bumps, chats with the enemy. Thumbs up gestures will be the new normal fad.
**8 warm-up pitches for relievers are “Outta heeeeere!” Hey, NFL field goal kickers don’t get warm up kicks.
**7-inning doubleheaders once a week. Seventh inning stretch becomes an endangered species.
**Singing “Take me out to the ballgame” may be scratched. Larry Andersen continues to be puzzled, “Why do they sing that when they are already here?”
**“Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack.” Sorry, no concession stands.
**Post-game interviews via zoom.
**David Murphy (Inquirer.com) suggested each team designates one batter that will bat every inning. Too new abnormal.
**Justin Turner (Dodgers): If game is tied after 9 innings, play 1 extra inning. If game is still tied, home run derby decides outcome. As Arte Johnson would say on Laugh In, “Very interesting.”
**Someone else suggested baseball should allow for tie games. 3 points for a win and 1 for a tie. Playing Scrooge, “Bah humbug.”
**Minor leagues use a “guest runner” at second base to start the 10th inning of each team. Might it graduate to new normal ball? Please, NO!
**Weekly “Throwback Thursdays”:No batting gloves, body armor, defensive shifts, speed pitch, pitch count, home run distances, launch angle measurements, mascots.
**Phillie Phanatic. Required to roam the upper deck. Social distancing. Sorry, big green friend.
Someday baseball will again be played with fans in the seats, but will it be the old normal? No one knows.