- July 8, 2020
? Of late there have not been too many days that have gone by without an announcement being made cancelling or postponing some event or activity that folks had been anticipating. Well, you can get out your marker and get ready to cross another off the calendar soon — perhaps that determination even arrived before
Of late there have not been too many days that have gone by without an announcement being made cancelling or postponing some event or activity that folks had been anticipating. Well, you can get out your marker and get ready to cross another off the calendar soon — perhaps that determination even arrived before this week’s Webb Weekly.
I do not have ‘inside information’ but I believe it is almost such a safe a bet that you could wager your hoard of toilet paper on; the 2020 Williamsport Crosscutters season will not be played. With the current state of Major League Baseball, that is hardly a revelation. Crosscutters’ officials have “nothing to report” but those inside the officers at Historic Bowman Field have to be enduring their own kind of administrative and personal purgatory waiting for the clinched right hand of that MLB umpire in the sky to go up emphatically giving them the ‘you’re out’ sign.
As sad as that will be to have the elegant lady on West Fourth Street shut down for the summer there is still the possibility that Minor League Baseball, as we have come to know it, may become, as part of the City’s slogan puts it, our “proud past.”
Earlier this year, before COVID-19 became the law of the land, Major League Baseball had released a proposal that would eliminate 40 Minor League Baseball franchises beginning with the 2021 season. The Crosscutters, and most of the other teams in the NY-Penn League, were on that chopping block. At January’s Hot Stove League banquet team owner Peter Freud expressed his opinion that ‘the team wasn’t going anywhere’ and he was looking forward to 2021 and beyond.
There has been some speculation that Williamsport could survive MLB hatchet. That glimmer of hope brightened when it was announced that MLB would be continuing its affiliation with Little League International by holding the MLB/Little League Classic at Bowman Field in future seasons. While as optimistic as that may be, there is no sure thing as to what the future may hold for Minor League Baseball, here in Williamsport or anywhere else.
As our ‘homeboundness’ has played out these past many weeks, Jean has often asked, “What would you like,” when raising the question about the evening’s meal choices. Quite often my response to that question was a flippant “Major League Baseball.” Most often she would just reply, “I know, but there is nothing I can do about that.”
As the sports world struggles with what can be done to restore some semblance of play my hopes were lifted when MLB submitted a proposal to the Players Union that, if agreed upon, could see some sort of a baseball season resuming after the Fourth of July. Three months of baseball is better than no baseball at all, I reasoned. After details of that proposal were made public I’m not sure, even as big of a baseball fan as I am, that I would want to see the game I love played in such a watered down fashion.
No question — whatever is done must be accomplished in as safe a manner as possible for all concerned. ‘No fans in the stands’ is understood and that indeed will be strange. But some of the other protocols devised by MLB’s four-man committee are hard to fathom. Space does not permit an entire rendering of MLB’s 67-page document under consideration but here are but a few.
‘Showers at ballparks would be discontinued with players possibly arriving in uniforms, (like they did when they played high school baseball). Team personnel will be banned from eating at restaurants on road trips. Team mascots (Phillie Phantic, etc.) will be banned from the field. The traditional exchange of lineup cards would be eliminated, along with high-fives, fist bumps and bat boys and girls. Spitting would be prohibited, along with water jugs and the use of saunas, steam rooms, pools and cryotherapy chambers. Hitting in indoor cages is discouraged and the use of batting gloves encouraged.
‘Batting practice pitchers are to wear masks, dugout telephones disinfected after each use. Players may not touch their face to give signs, and they’re not allowed to lick their fingers. Fielders are encouraged to retreat several steps away from the baserunner between pitches. First and third base coaches are not to approach baserunners or umpires and should not socialize with opponents. Players must wear masks while in restricted areas, except while on the field or engaging in other strenuous activities, and lockers must have at least 6 feet between them.’
And get this — ‘Managers and coaches must wear masks while in the dugouts. The next day’s starting pitcher can’t sit in the dugout. The entire traveling party — including players — must wear personal protective equipment while on buses and flights. Restaurants are off limits on the road, including the ones in hotels, as are hotel fitness centers.’
Folks, I am not making this up and it is not part of some sarcastic backlash. These, along with many other items, are what it may take to get MLB baseball back on the field in 2020. I will miss the Crosscutters and I will miss MLB, but if this is what it is coming too, I’m not sure it is worth it.
Despite all these issues, be safe out there.