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Thoughts on a time without baseball

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This is a terrifying time to be alive. There’s no cute way of phrasing that or softening it. The coronavirus pandemic is completely and utterly terrifying. It’s a black cloud of dread hanging over our heads. The age of sheltering in place and social distancing has driven a stake through the hearts of our communities. It’s hard to not feel alone.

Sports were (and will be again) an excellent source of community. Whether it was in the stands, with friends at home or online, sports gave us something to bond over. It’s hard to do that with abbreviated replays of old events and Twitch streams of players challenging each other at video games. This was supposed to be the first weekend of the MLB season, the first in a long series of weekends when people would be crashing at home and yelling about infielders booting ground balls instead of a lack of ventilators.

I miss that. I miss that sense of togetherness. There’s an inherent sense of joy that togetherness. It’s missing from our lives right now. Even if we’re alone when magical moments happen, group texts and social media allow us to freak out with our friends and fellow fans. I was by myself at home when Howie Kendrick doink’d a ball off the foul pole in Houston, but the shared excitement on my Twitter feed enriched the moment in a way that wasn’t truly tangible until Opening Day came and went with nothing but old games to offer.

Obviously this concern is beyond secondary to the genuine suffering taking place right now. People are dying. That comes before everything else, end of discussion. The importance of sports as a social focal point pales in comparison to that terrible reality. People are dying and the acceleration of the number of American dead shows no sign of stopping. We can all go without sports for a long time if it means it will help curb the spread of the virus.

This is a baseball site. Baseball is on my mind, and so is the loss of the shared experience of baseball. There’s no good remedy for this. I applaud MLB for trying to fill that void as best as it can, but there won’t be an adequate substitute for the shared experience of real games until the crisis is contained and sports can begin anew.

I apologize if this post has been something of a downer. My intent isn’t to depress, but to share what’s been on my mind, and to try to spark some sort of sharing. You’re on this site because you love the game, and the game has been put on hold by a horrifying force of nature. Baseball has served as a way to get your mind off of terrible things, and now the terrible thing is front and center.

The best we can do is to be here for one another. I’m curious to hear from the readers. Have you found a way to fill the baseball-shaped void in your daily lives? Is there something you’re doing to get your sports fix? Have you been getting that sense of baseball fandom camaraderie from somewhere else? Share your thoughts in the comments, or reach out on social media if you like.

If you want to learn more about COVID-19 or think you might need to be tested, give the CDC’s site about the virus a read. Informing yourself is the most important step. Washing your hands and staying home, if possible, is the best way to protect yourself.

Stay safe and be well.

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Oakland Athletics reverse course, will continue to pay minor leaguers

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has reversed course and will continue to pay minor leaguers. Fisher tells Slusser, “I concluded I made a mistake.” He said he is also setting up an assistance fund for furloughed employees.

The A’s decided in late May to stop paying paying minor leaguers as of June 1, which was the earliest date on which any club could do so after an MLB-wide agreement to pay minor leaguers through May 31 expired. In the event, the A’s were the only team to stop paying the $400/week stipends to players before the end of June. Some teams, notable the Royals and Twins, promised to keep the payments up through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended. The Washington Nationals decided to lop off $100 of the stipends last week but, after a day’s worth of blowback from the media and fans, reversed course themselves.