“Get Back to the Mound Little F**ker”

In a rematch of the 2017 World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers met with the Houston Astros, last night at Minute Maid Park. It marked the first meeting between the two teams since the sign-stealing scandal that roiled baseball for months.

Personally I was surprised how long it took for the fires of hatred to rage, and it came from the unlikely instigator Joe Kelly – who in 2017 was not even part of the Dodgers team. This did not prevent him from having a hatred for the Astros and in the sixth inning when Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly entered the game. After a couple of well paced inside pitches, he hit Bergman.

He then proceeded to purposely aim at him when throwing to first. Next up was trying to trip Brantley running out a ball slapped to infield, and Brantley spiking him. As Joe Kelly glared, one heard someone say “Hey, get back to the mound little fucker“. I guess this is the benefit of no crowds. You could hear it clearly as though the player was miked.

Next up to bat was Carlos Correa, who he pitched – let’s be honest, a bit too close for comfort, and ending up striking him out. He made the face you see above after he struck him out. Words were exchanged, and then the saddest bench clearing puffed out chest COVID-19 stare down began.

… Nothing came more of it, and the Dodgers beat the Astros 5-2.

In the end, the biggest winner of this COVID-19 Season are the Astros. They don’t need to face hostile crowds in all the other ballparks, and a story that was ripe for “baseball justice” has moved to the back burner – for now. Let’s see what happens in 2021, when hopefully things return to normal.

Update

News this evening. Joe Kelly is now suspended 8 games for his actions last night. That’s 8 more games than any of the Astro players got for cheating. Once again, none of the Astros players were every suspended – and yet Joe Kelly has been suspended for the equivalent of 22 games in a regular season. It wasn’t right for his actions, but justice meted out has been uneven.

That Didn’t Take Long – Two Teams in COVID Nightmare

It seems the nascent season is on the precarious brink as both the Marlins and Phillies are now effectively shut down. If you have not heard, the Florida Marlins now has over 10 players infected with COVID-19.

The most concerning part of the story is the team went ahead with a game against the Phillies, Sunday, even though they probably shouldn’t. There were 4 players who had tested positive. Now the Marlins and Phillies are stuck in quarantine and an unfortunate experiment is on: how contagious is COVID-19 if one team is infected and still plays.

As much as I love baseball, it seems now that the protocols in place are not good enough, and players like Didi Gregorious, who are high risk, are literally gambling their lives to bring us the game we love. And yet, there are still who think the virus is not serious, or some left- wing conspiracy. Just look at some comments in reaction to Freddie Freeman’s battle to come back.

Also I won’t lie or be a hypocrite. I needed the distraction of baseball. For this reason, I didn’t pay that close attention to the protocols. However, I am not selfish enough to want people to risk their lives for a game. It seems now imperative that the MLB revisits their plans, and consider the bubble idea the NHL & NBA have instituted. The stadiums are empty anyway, so why does it matter to be in their home city. Now is the time to take a collective pause and rethink.

The MLB leadership needs to study what happened, make changes, make it right and protect the players. Their health and safety is more important then our entertainment.

The Montreal Baseball File Since COVID-19

Before COVID-19, the Montreal Baseball file had flared up with the idea of Montreal and Tampa sharing a team. Rumors were abound about the Montreal Baseball Group taking a minority stake in the Tampa Bay Rays, but then COVID happened. Naturally this was not a focus of anyone when the world is essentially on pause.

Nonetheless, as Baseball has returned in the USA, so has the idea of the split team. It was only natural I guess as the Rays prepared to play the Blue Jays at their home opener the topic would once again come to the fore.

In a recent live stream, the Tamp Rays team president Brian Auld was asked about the plan, as the clock ticks faster to 2028, when the lease is up for their current home. His response is not a surprise : “the discussion will return once the pandemic clears.”

Nonetheless,  the principal owner of the Rays Stuart Sternberg has not be silent on this though. Only a week ago it was reported

 The pandemic slowed but didn’t halt the work on pursuing the Montreal plan, which calls for new open-air stadiums to be built in both markets and the team to split seasons starting in 2028, if not sooner.

In this wide ranging 40-minute conversation with the Tampa Bay Times, from his New York home, Stuart Sternberg made it clear staying in Tampa was not really being even considered anymore.

From the Canadian side, Bronfman and his Montreal Baseball Group has been totally silent on the subject. His most recent action was the lovely gesture of officially licensed Expos masks to Perry Gee, founder of Expos Fest.

The masks as of now are sold out, and Perry is working to get more of them…

The 60 Game Season

Welcome to the abbreviated 2020 baseball season. The first major sports league of the big four to begin again since COVID-19 shut down all competitive sport leagues in North America (along with pretty much everything else).

The MLB stadiums are empty expect for players and essential staff, but some fans have spent $99 or more to have their cardboard likeness there. I should note that’s only for some teams. Besides the real sounds of bat meets ball, the sounds of the crowd are simulated from a video game MLB the Show 2020. For the first time in years both leagues have the same rules with the NL teams agreeing to a dedicated DH. Oh and since 1969, no MLB baseball in Canada , since the Blue Jays are still homeless rejected by the Canadian Federal government. Pittsburg doesn’t want them either. Maybe Baltimore. Maybe Buffalo. I do feel some satisfaction even though I do follow the Blue Jays, to see them feel a bit of the pain they enacted on the Montreal Expos. All they had to do was symbolically oppose the fate that has befallen them now….but I’m not bitter. Okay maybe a little, Blue Jays by default being the closest team to me, and with an exciting core of young talent is hard not to root for. Especially when the scion of one of the all time great Expos plays for them. I mean did you see that homer run out of Fenway that Vladdy smacked in the pre-season game yesterday. It was a monster.

And so tonight, our favourite game started again, in the most 2020 way. Dr Anthony Fauci, mask and all, “threw” the first pitch to open the season. Even without the fans – his nerves showed, as the pitch veered off to the side, just as poor Gary Dell’Abate at that Mets game.

Then a great game began as the Yankees, now fully recovered from the injury plagued 2019, roared back to life early. Stanton reminded us why they are called “The Bronx Bombers” with a nice home run off one of the most preeminent pitchers of this era Max Scherzer. For a small moment I forgot all the COVID-19 malarkey. t

That was until Manfred, the current commissioner of Baseball took a bow for his success in getting baseball back so quick. And once again it seems the COVID gods were not happy.

The lightning came, then the rain, effectively ending the game. The spell was broken.

But alas, not for long, the late game Giants @Dodgers starts soon and baseball is back. Huzzah!