Just when things weren't looking so great for Major League Baseball's return in 2020, news dropped that an agreement had finally been reached between the league and union. Players will report back to camp on July 1st and the season will kick off one month from today on July 23rd. They will play 60 games plus playoffs. This is the first of the four major sports (baseball, football, basketball, and hockey) to get back on the field post-pandemic.
It has been a long brutal journey since early March when the country began shutting down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the beautiful game of baseball has a way of bringing the American people together.
Like when President George W. Bush threw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium following 9/11 - a perfect strike!
Or the 1998 home run chase that completely mesmerized the country. For that 'Long Gone Summer' we were a nation united around something special.
Or the moment in 1947 when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers and Pee Wee Reese put his arm around him at second base. A powerful showing of unity in a country still divided in many ways.
Or Mike Piazza, of the New York Mets, hitting that infamous home run deep into the New York City night during the first game back following the September 11th terrorist attacks. A moment in which the country took a collective sigh of relief for the first time in weeks. A moment that was more than just a another home run...but a symbol that all was going to be okay.
Baseball is an imperfect game with an imperfect history, much like the United States herself. And the path to getting back on the field in 2020 was also far from perfect. I will be the first to say that many of the developments during the negotiation left a bad taste in my mouth. But we now have an opportunity...
In the midst of a horrible pandemic that has left so many devastated coupled with unrest across the nation in the wake of the George Floyd killing, America's favorite pastime can be something we rally around. A common good we enjoy together like we have in year's past. But are we too polarized? Too far gone to let that happen? Or will we put an arm around each other like Pee Wee and Jackie in 1947? Will we remember that feeling from the summer of '98? Will spending time watching a ballgame with family and friends and those of different backgrounds and political persuasions, instead of the incendiary talking heads on the news designed to divide us, and help allow us realize we are actually much more united than we even understand? Maybe, just maybe.
I will leave you Flapprs with this tonight; the memorable James Earl Jones speech from "Field of Dreams"...
The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game -- it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again.
So when baseball finally returns on July 23rd, let us make the most of this opportunity. Let baseball bring us all together. Lets enjoy the shortened 60 game season and hope together that the Mets win the World Series so we can all laugh that it doesn't really count anyways. What could be more unifying that than? Baseball is back everybody...and the best is yet to come.