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May spring come quickly

Dear Baseball –

Thanks again for dropping in this summer. Many people said you wouldn’t be coming and if you did, you wouldn’t stick around very long – just another victim of the pandemic. But we made it together, to the World Series.

You arrived fashionably late this year popping in near the end of July after very strange Easter, Father’s Day and the Fourth of July holidays with no baseball. The sprint of just 60 games, expanded playoffs and new rules gave us something to talk about other than COVID-19 death counts, politics and the struggling economy.

Like the old friend you are, you filled the afternoons and nights with games, assuring us everything was going to be OK, while even this game we grew up with seemed a bit odd at times. There was fake crowd noise, cardboard cutouts and teddy bears in the stands. We laughed at a giant bear getting nailed in the head by a foul ball and got used to broadcasters who called the games from living rooms or basements often thousands of miles away from the stadium. But it was the same game with the Dodgers, Yankees, Nationals, Orioles, Braves and even the cheating Astros. That was good enough, especially in 2020.

Back in early August it looked like we would never see this World Series when almost the entire Marlins team got sick with COVID and an outbreak with the Cardinals quickly followed. But the teams adjusted. Protocols were followed more strictly and the games played on. Commissioner Rob Manfred did a great job pushing through the tough spots and keeping the season on track.

We got the World Series we wanted and even had a few real-life fans sprinkled in. A couple decades from now, people will wonder why the Dodgers and Rays were playing the 2020 World Series in Texas.

We hope that this coming spring, or at least by the summer, we can come visit again instead of spending a summer socially distanced from the ballpark. The fact that I couldn’t take a Saturday and pop up to D.C. or Baltimore to catch a game has been very odd. This summer’s relationship with the game has been like having an elderly parent in a long-term care facility – able to visit through the window, but never getting close enough to touch.

Those of us who live through this time will never take the roar of a crowd for granted again. I want to hear the crowd celebrating a walk-off home run or a pennant. I want to just stand there and let the sound of joy wash over me. That is what this season has been missing most of all. The constant murmur in the stands, the sounds of the beer man, the seventh-inning stretch, the high fives with friends whose names you will never know, the anticipation on long fly balls to the outfield – all missing. When I see past highlights with cheering crowds, I remember what we have missed this summer.

Hopefully next year will be better and we can have a more normal summer.

Now you leave us with a cold, dark winter filled with trepidation and uncertainty. We will be waiting anxiously for your return and a with it, a return to the game we have loved for decades.

May spring come quickly.