On Sunday night, we learned — thanks to The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly and Zach Buchanan — some amusing albeit unsurprising news that Diamondbacks starter and former San Francisco Giant Madison Bumgarner has been competing in rodeos under a pseudonym. That pseudonym? Mason Saunders.
According to Bumgarner, “Mason” is simply a shortening of “Madison,” and “Saunders” is his wife’s maiden name. The lefty won $26,560 in a team-roping rodeo competition back in December, so it’s a hobby that Bumgarner both takes seriously and is good at, though he insists he ropes with his non-pitching hand.
Baseball Reference responded to the news by creating a “Team-Roping Rodeo Competition Winnings” section on Bumgarner’s player page, and adding his pseudonym as an “Alter Ego” in his biographical info.
The San Jose Giants, the club’s Single-A affiliate, also joined in on the fun, announcing on Tuesday that Excite Ballpark will host Mason Saunders Night on Friday, June 5. The club boasts a San Jose Giants/Rodeo shirsey giveaway, themed promotions, special items on the Turkey Mike’s BBQ menu, and prizes for some who dress up as their alias or alter ego. All fans who wear a Bumgarner jersey or a rodeo outfit to the ballpark will get two game tickets to a future San Jose Giants game as well.
Matt Alongi, the San Jose Giants vice president of marketing said, “This ain’t our first rodeo. The San Jose Giants are proud to celebrate one of their all-time greats with a fun-filled entertaining night at the ballpark. We want to make sure that Madison is not only remembered for what he did on the baseball field, but also celebrate his unique accomplishments in the rodeo arena. We hope that Mason will be able to join us but understand he may have other commitments at this time of the year.”
As far as minor league promotions go, this one is a home run. I just wonder if we’ll find the whole Mason Saunders saga as amusing in four months as we do right now. Internet memes move quickly.
Adrian Wojnarowski and Adam Schefter report that President Donald Trump told the sports commissioners on today’s conference call that he hopes that the leagues can re-open their doors to fans by August or September. The conference call, as we wrote earlier today, included a who’s-who of sports decision-makers.
Trump reportedly also said that the NFL can open on schedule in September, and urged the commissioners to work together to lobby for sports-related tax credits for consumers.
It’s hard to imagine MLB being able to get anything resembling a full season done if the game doesn’t resume until August or September. Even with the proposal to play a lot of double-headers in consideration, that would be asking an awful lot of the players, especially the pitchers. The season could theoretically stretch on into October, with the playoffs being held in warm-weather environments and domes in November. Yet that would depend on COVID-19 being contained in those locations, and would also impact the length of the offseason. Players would have less time to heal and rest up for next year’s spring training.
Trump’s benchmarks are also being set without any real sense for the scale of the pandemic given the abysmal lack of testing taking place to track the spread of the virus. The CDC and other health outlets within the government are operating on educated guesses and not hard data. We could have live sports back by August, or not until November. It’s simply too soon to tell.
The decision to re-open the leagues would not be a light one. Fans will be eager to get back in the stands after such a long layoff without sports. Live sporting events pull in tens of thousands of people, and just a handful of infected fans would be able to let the virus spread like wildfire. The health of the players is also paramount. Even a single player testing positive for COVID-19 could derail the nascent season.
One thing is clear, though. If baseball isn’t able to return until September, we may as well not have a season at all. There’s a very real chance we won’t be seeing any American baseball until 2021. Now might be a good time to figure out how to livestream the KBO, which is hoping to start its season sometime next month.
If you want to learn more about COVID-19, give the CDC’s site about the virus a read. Informing yourself is the most important step.