When the Dodgers and Baseball Comes Back, in Whatever Capacity, We Will be Grateful

In Pre-COVID Los Angeles, the Dodgers would be getting ready to face the San Diego Padres for their 39th game of the season. Nearly a quarter of the way to the postseason. Hopefully, the Dodgers would already be atop of the standings and if history is any indication, Justin Turner’s power stroke would be waking up right about now to add security.

Today, Dodger Stadium would be filled with fans enjoying Dodger Dogs and beating this unseasonal heat with Micheladas. They’d be taunting Manny Machado with “No-Johnny-Hustle” quips and chasing the money jabs, with any luck, he’d engage back. Win or lose though, fans would gather on the field after the game, without giving any thought to “social distancing”, to enjoy a perfect Mother’s Day at the park.

Well, it’s May 10, 2020 A.C. (Amid COVID) and no games have been played yet. The season that started with so much promise, the addition of Mookie Betts and David Price; a top shape Clayton Kershaw and renewed velocity Kenley Jansen; the Dodger Stadium remodel and All-Star Game; an end to the Dodgers 6-year TV blackout, has yet to begin. It seems every week fans are teased with rumors of a MLB “season to commence” announcement, only to be asked to hold their breath a little longer.

At this point, that is life, right? Inconvenience. Long lines to get into a store for one item, not even certain if the item will be there and even if it is another long line to check out. Spending money we don’t have, on things we already have because it happens to be in stock and may not be when we actually need it. These frustrating heat trapping masks that make your face sweat like the waist trimmer you wear under your shirt at the gym. We don’t know if our breath is kicking or if we just have nose, lip, and chin BO.

Canceled work. Canceled sports. Canceled concerts. Canceled parks, beaches, camping, hiking. Canceled everything. Nothing but inconvenience and disappointment since March.

But you know what the beauty in all of it is though? Gratitude. When we are beat down by inconvenience and disappointment, it’s easier to be grateful for the smaller things. I know when Spring/Summer Training starts, it won’t mean anything, except that it suddenly will. I also know the thought of a shortened season that begins with the Dodgers playing in empty stadiums doesn’t sound appealing, except that it will be. Fans will just be grateful for Dodger Baseball regardless of the format.

The stark reality is, with so many unfortunate people now out of work, the price of tickets, parking, food, and drinks for the family at the ballpark just may not be in the cards. Watching Dodger games from home may be their only option and frankly, may be what gets them through their future tough times. Watching the Dodgers play again as well as hearing Joe, Orel, and the rest of the broadcast team, will be a comfort, and, in a sense, they will be heroes in their own right. Certainly not on the level of the military, first responders, nurses, or doctors, but heroes that help on another front. For some fans, these players and broadcasters that we’ve invited into our homes through the years, will be back to help them escape from their new world troubles and anxieties, but for all fans they will serve as a glimmer of normalcy.

It won’t be the same. No real faces in the stands, no fan interactions, and no fan energy to feed off of. I’ve heard it said, that winning the World Series on a shortened season this year won’t be a “real” World Series victory. I’d argue that winning one without the stimuli and subsequent adrenaline of a crowd will be more difficult. The Dodgers, who are accustomed to sellout crowds, will have to conjure up the importance of those high stakes moment. When this season begins it may very well come down to a love of the game and a love of the fans. No, it won’t be the same, but it may never be more important.

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  1. This season will be used as a test bed to see what kinds of fundamental changes to the game the fans will accept. That’s more of a concern to me than playing a shortened season. I’d be surprised if baseball ever looked the same.