I don’t know about you, but I am at the point where staying current on the latest MLB news is frustrating and exhausting. It’s fruxhausting. Exstrating. Whatever. Will-they-or-won’t-they is my least favorite TV trope, because they always will, and the show will always go a little bit (or a lot) downhill because of it. Every time I sit down to write an update about the latest news on the state of the sport, this is what happens:
A) Beat writer A tweets something definitive-sounding out, followed by a rush of elation across Baseball Twitter;
B) Beat writers B - ZZ tweet things ranging from mildly conflicting to outright contradicting writer A’s statement, followed by a rush of deflation across Baseball Twitter and a sucking sound within my chest cavity;
C) An official body of some kind issues a statement that no definitive agreement has been reached while often taking the opportunity to snipe at the other party, followed by the gnawing sense of apathy and disappointment that has become the flavor of my daily bread;
D) Repeat A-C ad nauseam.
For anyone who’s been trapped in the cycle of the dying days of a dysfunctional relationship or had a front-row seat to one, this pattern is unpleasantly familiar and can provoke feelings ranging from annoyance to trauma. Even for those who don’t have personal connections to this type of situation, it’s tough to watch as a baseball fan: the thing you love being slowly ground under a business-smart heel until only a joyless pulp remains.
For me, the part that rankles the most is the missed opportunity for MLB to grow the game to a new, younger audience by seizing upon this moment—something that would pay dividends for the sport for years, if the owners had only been willing to assume a certain amount of financial risk in the short term. It’s a penny-wise but pound-foolish move that ensures baseball will stay in the same place it’s been—seen as “boring” by a larger and larger part of the US demographic.
In fact, instead of baseball opening up new portals to people during this slowed-down time, non-baseball fans are aware enough of baseball to dunk on it.
the man who runs baseball sucks and i don't even care about baseball— Amanda Mull (@amandamull) June 16, 2020
Gold stars all around, marketers and trustees of the thing many of us hold dearly.
Of course, all of this [gestures wildly to entire conversation about the money side of baseball’s return] is—or should be, and should have been all along—moot, if it’s not safe for players to play. And right now, it sure doesn’t feel like it is. Following an outbreak of positive cases over the past couple of days, every MLB club will be forgoing their spring training sites and re-locating to their home stadiums, if the season actually happens.
Every #MLB club has now decided to have their spring-training camp in their own home cities with the recent surge of COVID-19 in Arizona and Florida.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) June 20, 2020
So far, the outbreaks that have been reported are in the Florida spring training sites; the Phillies and Yankees have both had positive cases at their facilities (Clearwater and Tampa, respectively). The Blue Jays shut down their spring training facility in Dunedin (located just ten minutes north of Philadelphia’s facility in Clearwater) this past Friday after a player reported experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. However, spiking numbers of cases in both Florida and Arizona—two of the four states with record numbers of new cases, and coincidentally the two states where baseball has spring training sites—have pushed clubs to move their “Spring Training 2.0” sites back to their home ballparks, which feels like a tacit admission that it’s not safe to be playing baseball right now—not in Florida and Arizona, at least, but what of the three clubs already headquartered in those states? What happens when these teams from “hot spot” states eventually meet up to play other teams? What happens at all?
And baseball isn’t the only sport looking to resume that’s had outbreaks of the virus. The NHL, NWSL, MLS, PGA, and various college football programs have all experienced positive cases since resuming activities. NBA’s plan to return to a Florida-based complex also seems in doubt after the spike of cases in Florida. It’s starting to feel like sports, as a concept even, won’t be coming back any time soon.
Vegas has recently been entertaining bets on when or if the season would start; according to BetOnline this past week, odds still favor the MLB season returning (-250 to +175), but even those are down significantly since late May. Personally, I feel more negatively about the season possibly coming back than I have throughout this process, which is certainly influenced by MLB pulling back from spring training sites and the confirmed cases in the sport(s). And yet, with no definitive call from MLB, we are left to read the tea leaves on our own.
So what to do? I checked a couple Magic 8 Ball generators online but they were...suspiciously, overwhelmingly positive. So instead, I offer you something from my own expertise, which is probably about as reliable as anything you’d read on Twitter: a tarot card pull. Every time there’s a new piece of “information” about the season, I’ll report that along with what my trusty Morgan-Greer deck, which I’ve had since the Mariners were last in the playoffs, has to say. Hey, it’s just as valid as a Nightengale tweet. (And, I admit, an entirely selfish way to compel me to report on the latest breaking news/leaks/rumors, no matter how insubstantial/contradictory/fruxhausting.)
The pull: Three of Wands
Wands, or batons, are all about action, initiative, and go-go-go. The Three of Wands traditionally shows an adventurer, staff at the ready, facing out into the great wide world, and as such, usually signifies the beginning of a journey, or the undertaking of a new enterprise. That could be the beginning of the season—or it could be a sly wink about an ill-fated attempt to distill the machinations of MLB’s various factions into one easily consumable answer. But there’s no better place to begin an adventure than at the beginning, so while MLB might bore us with endless back-and-forth, and the virus might keep things at bay indefinitely, maybe we’ll have some other adventure, at least, to talk about in these pages. At least, I hope so.