Miami Marlins players celebrating while having the Coronavirus
Three Batter Minimum

Three Batter Minimum: The Dread of Watching

In the back of my head, there is one nagging thought that I can’t move past. This thought permeates all my discussions of baseball. There’s no way I can escape this thought, no matter of baseball in which I don’t feel it is prescient. I’ve tried, but no matter how I approach it or how I frame the issue I can’t get past the fact that baseball should not be taking place right now.

To be clear I am not talking about baseball the world over. I have no problem with the baseball taking place in South Korea, Taiwan, Italy, the Netherlands, and other places. The baseball being played there is taking place in countries that took the Coronavirus seriously. Not only did those countries take the virus seriously (some sooner than others, but all eventually took it very seriously) but the leagues that are playing in those countries have strict and stringent safety guidelines they are following. When I watch baseball from any of the pro leagues in those countries it still feels different but the nagging doubt that I shouldn’t be watching isn’t present.

The same is not true for the baseball taking place in America right now. Whether it’s Major League Baseball, the American Association, United Shore Professional Baseball League, Pecos League, or any of the random probably this year only amalgamation leagues I feel off when watching the baseball take place. It shouldn’t be taking place, this country has not responded to the Coronavirus in a fashion that equates to professional baseball being a luxury we should have right now.

I find myself less likely to tune in and watch a game. I know that it shouldn’t be taking place so why would I want to watch a game from any of those leagues? I have watched some, but the zest and zeal that I usually display towards baseball is not present. Baseball is, in many ways, my safety net. It’s not that baseball is an escape, but it is tied into the world in such a way that when I watch baseball I feel like I am connected to what is happening in the world right now. That’s not always a good feeling;  let’s be honest, baseball, especially MLB, is not always the best when it comes to larger social issues. Still, right now I feel a sense of wrongness or dread for even turning on a game that is taking place in America. 

Baseball is still tying me into the world around me, but now it feels like it is on the same path as the worst elements of our world. It is just as out of control as the virus, and the reality is that baseball in America could be fixed simply by not playing. Right this very second every league listed above could stop playing and countless lives would be safer because of such a decision. I know that decision is not coming, not when there is money to be made. Capitalism ensures that profits matter more than people and we are seeing that right now in every American professional league in action.

The Coronavirus isn’t going anywhere, but it would be nice if baseball in America wasn’t adding to my stress and anxiety over this pandemic. Nice, but not realistic, at least not as long as the wheels of capitalism are in motion. I love baseball, I just want the American leagues to stop being so stupid. Is that too much to ask?

Lead photo courtesy of Mitchell Leff – Getty Images

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Bill Thompson
Father (human/feline/canine), husband, Paramedic, Socialist, writer Internet Baseball Writers Association of America and Off the Bench Baseball; freelance writer at various online and print publications. Member Internet Baseball Writers Association of America & Society for American Baseball Research.

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