128 Days

Feels so much longer doesn’t it. That’s how long it will have been since the last time the Pittsburgh Pirates have played any semblance of competitive baseball when they take the field on Friday against the Cleveland Indians for the final tune-up series before the 60-game sprint starts.

It’s been quite a journey for all of us and we still aren’t sure where we’ll land are we? Playing games isn’t going to shut off the rest of the issues we need to deal with or protect the population from COVID-19, but it will provide a much-needed boost of normalcy.

I know, some of you would rather they just skip the whole thing, and I’m not here to try to change your mind. I can’t identify with it in any way but I’m also not in the business of strong-arming people to see things my way, all I can do is offer my thoughts and if any of them click with you, great. If not and you just want me to document why this whole thing is a dangerous and useless example of America believing it can will away a virus, I’d advise you to not hold your breath.

I’m also not the type to worry about being wrong on speculation. Now this doesn’t mean I dispute hard facts as fake, it simply means when we’re trying to settle on how a prospect will turn out or how a trade will turn out, if I’m wrong, I’ll admit it and move on. Over time you’ll either trust what I believe because I’m right more often than not or the opposite.  I feel no different about diving headfirst into this season. I’d rather not be wrong of course, I mean, who wants opinion from someone who has zero care as to the outcome of their musings?

Point is, if I’m going to write about the Pirates, I’m going to do it. I’m not going to pretend the floor could cave in at any moment and start every sentence with “If” or back up every statement with all the caveats involved. No different than my choosing to take the given economic system in baseball and the owner of the club I follow himself being a loathsome cheapskate, accept it, and realistically discuss what they can do right now, as it is.

This is going to be a sprint of a season, there will be adjustments some of us will love and some of us will hate, but above all it will be baseball. Pitching, hitting, coaching, spectacular plays and towering shots will all make the trip with us into the weirdness.

We won’t learn as much about our young players as we’d like. Someone could hit .400 in this shortened bastardized season and then we’d have a big discussion about its validity. Or, dare I go so far as to suggest an asterisk. Yeah, we’re going to have to deal with it. It won’t invalidate everything that happens in the game, it’ll just be different. Surely, we can handle some nuance. In a world that has taken a beating, surely, we can take a small dose of what we find unpalatable in order to experience a bit of joy.

I mean, isn’t that life in a nutshell? Dealing with things we’d rather not in order to do the things we really enjoy. Of all the players in MLB the majority have chosen to play, maybe money was their motivation, but know what, regardless of their motivation they’ve chosen to accept the dangers and put in the effort to go out on that field and give what they have to the betterment of, well, us.

MiLB players have had their season completely cancelled, and knowing how their journey to MLB often is, one would think they’d predominately be concerned about their pocketbooks. Instead the majority have focused on staying in shape and disappointing the fans. You know, you and I the people that will ultimately call half of them bums when they can’t play like Ken Griffey Jr.

The players offer to entertain us, despite the dangers and I’m quite sure they don’t need me to remind them of that fact every time I sit down to write, or you for that matter.

That’s a very long way to say, hey, let’s enjoy what we can. This Friday, we can enjoy baseball. It won’t fix everything, it won’t make the virus go away, nobody can promise it’s entirely safe, but it could just help us feel like we will get through this.

If it ends, it ends, but something tells me once we remember what we’ve missed, we’ll be hard pressed to let it go again.

The normalcy offered by being immersed in the season will take over, headlines will start to include scores or in-game moments. Stories will begin to take shape as lineup choices begin to be informed by real baseball stats and observations. Players who have heard what they can’t do for an extra 3 or 4 months will finally get their chance to show you were wrong or perhaps show how prescient you were.

Either way, potential becomes actual and we’ll watch it unfold as questions get answered on a nightly basis. Something benign to argue about, something harmless to take sides on, sports. I encourage everyone to take this season as the Miller Lite when you wanted a nice IPA that it is. It might not taste as good, it certainly won’t completely satisfy the craving, but if it’s all you’ve got, and you like beer, drink up.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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