Even the two world wars of the last century didn’t prevent Major League Baseball from playing their World Series championship, no matter what went on off the field. The 2020 baseball season will be comprised of 60 games and an extended playoff schedule and there’ll be so many asterisks in the record books they’ll have to put wheels on it.

Bob Kalish observes life from a placid place on the island of Arrowsic (motto: You’re not in Georgetown yet). You can reach him at [email protected]

So you think we don’t miss baseball? It’s the soundtrack of our summers and it’s not over yet. Thanks to our pandemic, the entire field of professional sports is suffering the loss of billions of dollars, while we, the fans (short for “fanatics”), fear that when it turns quiet ticket prices to a ball game will run into six figures. There’s talk of switching the seasons around and making baseball a fall sport and football a spring activity. But that solves nothing.

There are similarities to the game called cricket, but the rules for that game can only be understood in the original Urdu. Baseball is a game unlike any other; there is a different rhythm to baseball. Action explodes and everyone runs and then it’s quiet, but attention is required. Games are intervals of action and quiet. You can go to a game and talk to your companion throughout the whole thing; your attention flits around like those stray pigeons and gulls at Fenway. Critics fault baseball for being too slow, for being too old. It is a slow game, not a contact sport. But we like it that way. Baseball doesn’t need cheerleaders and we’ll find out by the end of this shortened season if it needs an audience.

The owners and the players’ union don’t know what to do or who to blame. Somehow in its lifetime baseball managed to survive integration, two world wars and Lady Gaga, only to be felled by a virus. It was baseball that reminded us of the speed with which the earth turns: opening day in April and trade deadlines in July and August and then time running out in September. And the World Series? In November before the last strike is called in the growing twilight. And then in the blink of an eye suddenly it is February and the bus leaves Fenway on its way to Florida and spring training.

Before the pandemic and shutdown the passage of summer was kept by the baseball schedule. I would check the ball scores every morning, the standings, the appropriate news. Radio is the perfect medium for baseball. Long pauses while the pitcher and catcher trade signals before the ball is thrown. Rain delays. Those moments on the radio broadcast are perfect for one of those Hall of Fame broadcasters like Joe Castigleone or Vin Sculley to ramble about, say, why North Carolina barbecue is better than the barbecue in South Carolina, or better yet, a story about a game long ago in which one player stole three consecutive bases. Tell me that isn’t more entertaining than yet another beer commercial. Let’s get off our fannies and play ball (please).

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