Monday, March 16, 2020

Baseball and its Unifying Abilities

We are just days into this global pandemic and so far, COVID-19 has taken a multitude of normalcy away from our daily lives. Forced to reconsider how we’ll operate in the weeks ahead; we no longer have baseball (and sports as a whole) to view. While that’s disappointing, it is in these passions that people have long since become a unified community.

Major League Baseball shelved operations in the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues last week. We now have seen teams disperse, with players returning home to the extent of some even leaving the country. As things stand right now, resumption of the sport couldn’t be more distant. First pitches were supposed to be thrown out on Opening Day’s around the league in less than two weeks. That has been taken away from us. Amidst this unfortunate revelation, we’re forced to consider what aspect of the sport really brings us together in the first place.

Statistics, analysis, and fandom is generated by the on-field play of athletes we follow. Baseball is a labor of love requiring buy in over a long seasons that tracks many months. The level of consumption can be different for each fan, but the outlets and offerings available to us are plentiful and provide something for everyone. It’s in this time of stoppage that we can shift a focus to where we’re all at, and that’s a reality of togetherness.

Sure, there’s no breakdowns of Spring Training action or roster movement taking place right now. We don’t have highlights to pour over or tickets to buy.  What we still have however is a community of people that share a passion towards a singular subject. While we’re all divided by teams and players, baseball is the greater thread that brings it all back together.

In this downtime there’s more than a handful of great writers putting out content. There are websites still pumping out great pieces. There have been a handful of awesome books published over the past couple of seasons. Heck, Twitter allows for immediate dialogue and interaction amongst an endless number of participants. Really, it’s baseball that has brought us all together, but not the on-field product that keeps us here.

Hopefully sooner rather than later we’ll have a return to action on the field. In the meantime, though, the fan wins alongside every other fan going through the same experience. Find different ways to consume this passion. Strike up new conversations, read new writers, join new communities. The impact of this experience, and the way we’re able to consume a sport that has temporarily been taken away, is entirely up to each individual.

There won’t be any box scores when it’s all said and done, but the appreciation and love of the game can be certain to grow along the way.