Mike Kays

Well, that didn’t last long.

After months of haggling over playing conditions, MLB owners and players handed us a 60-game schedule and, we may assume, as a bonus for enduring their haggling, an expanded 16-team playoff derby.

You and I have access to most any ballpark in the country without travel issues getting there, by attending games as 2D cardboard cutouts of ourselves — which, in a twisted way, is a great route to take if you’ve had the goal of being at every ballpark in the country once. It’s only about $50, which beats a ticket, a hot dog, and drink.

But could it be that for even the renditions of ourselves, the gate will be closed soon?

Fifteen Miami Marlins players tested positive for something you might have heard of by now — COVID-19. A third of the 30-man roster along with a spattering of staffers all got it. How sick they are, or even if they are sick, is not known.

No games involving the Marlins will be played through the weekend. Also, the remainder of the Philadelphia Phillies’ home-and-home series with the New York Yankees was wiped out. The Phillies were having a second round of COVID-19 tests Tuesday after having hosted the Marlins last weekend  in Philadelphia. Miami was to host Baltimore, who now will play the Yankees.

It’s assumed the cardboard fans aren’t worried about refunds.

Baseball will be lucky to get to 60 games across the board. 

Obviously the testing is more intense as the pros try to make something of normalcy in this pandemic.  We understand someone can test positive and never really feel sick, just as some can get it and die.

Contrast this, though, with a season at Hatbox involving youth baseball. I wrote a column about my latest Hatbox experience in June, where the only masks I saw were worn in the concession stand. Walking around gazing at every field, I saw not one player, coach or fan wearing one. Dugouts were social coziness.

A couple of coaches I spoke to that night said they had heard of no teams having someone come up with the virus. No temperature departures either. That’s just their understandings, mind you, but again, the place looked like it was baseball in 2005, when my son and I were regulars there. 

Perry Keith, Connors State’s baseball coach, hosted his annual showcases and Heartland All-Star Classic this summer. There were masks there, but not many. Keith said he has heard of no team having problems before or after visits here.

Mike Whitten, coach of the area’s American Legion baseball team, the Three Rivers Bandits, didn’t lose a kid either.

Those venues didn’t test.

But, no damages, apparently.

Yet, those wouldn’t have the spotlight of MLB, the NBA, NCAA or NHL either, nor the enormous investment to make it all happen.

MLB has instructed a lack of touch, and it wasn’t hard this weekend to see what comes natural — high-fives and fist-bumps. Yet we’re also to consider man-to-man defense in the Disney NBA bubble safe? Only because the last test came in negative.

This is becoming a dice roll on all levels. Meanwhile, the health community debates the various positive effects of some drugs, and at times, the debate seems political.

A stone-hard reality is we may not have a perfected vaccine a year from now, or two. 

Nothing is guaranteed.

Life says that anyway, but it’s very real right now.

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