The Week That Was: Training Days

     Major League Baseball is hoping to salvage something from COVID-19-plagued 2020 by starting a 60-game season next week. All MLB teams, including the New York Mets, have been using their ballparks, for a second “spring training” for the last two weeks.

      Media coverage has radically changed because of the pandemic as the only access for the press has been Zoom teleconferences with players and team officials. Once the season begins there will be a limit of 35 people in any press box and there won’t be any fans allowed in any stadium.

     Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo had an interesting take when asked what he found most different about baseball life in summer 2020. “Everybody is used to talking to each other in the players cafeteria. Now we’re 12 feet apart and everyone is quiet. Our meals are brought to us in wrapped packages,” he replied.

    As is the case with training camps in every sport there was the usual amount of inane press blather.

    Ace pitcher Jacob deGrom, who has been the recipient of the last two Cy Young Awards, was asked if winning a third consecutive would mean as much to him. After acknowledging he would enjoy it if it were to happen he candidly replied that he would have only a dozen or so starts instead of his traditional roughly 32 so it wouldn’t be as meaningful.

     Given the brevity of the 2020 season, assuming it makes it to completion (COVID-19 may not be a sports fan), the Baseball Writers Association of America should suspend all of its awards since they’s all have virtual asterisks anyway. Any newcomers who play in 2020 should be allowed to compete for the 2021 Rookie of the Year Award.

      One sign baseball summer training camp is similar to its traditional spring counterpart are the overly optimistic pieces written by otherwise down-to-earth columnists. A case in point was the New York Post’s Steve Serby wondering last week if Mets infielder Jeff McNeil can hit .400 during a short season. The last player to hit for that hallowed average over a full season was Ted Williams in 1941 who batted .406.

       Electronic sports gamers are almost as well-known to Gen Z as superstar athletes. 20 year-old Fresh Meadows resident George Adamou recently won $12,500 for being named EA Sports best FIFA 20 player in North America. He was bestowed that honor after winning the eMLS Cup Championship representing the New York Red Bulls.

     He told me that MLS Commissioner Don Garber, who grew up in Bayside, tweeted out his congratulations on his accomplishment.

      When I asked Adamou the secrets of becoming a top video gamer he quickly replied “Confidence and concentration!”

     Adamou is a Benjamin Cardozo High School alum and will be entering his senior year at Adelphi University as a business administration major.

     Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson brought disgrace upon himself and his team when he posted anti-Semitic tropes on social media.

      Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Zach Banner was the loudest in his condemnation of Jackson’s remarks. His former teammate, New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins, also criticized him in a more muted fashion. New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman, who is Jewish, offered to go with Jackson to the Holocaust Museum and the National Museum of African History & Culture which are both located in Washington, DC.

     What was most disappointing was NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s total silence on the matter particularly after he forthrightly condemned racism in the aftermath of George Floyd’s senseless murder. He could have simply issued a press release stating the NFL will not tolerate anti-Semitism in any form.

     Rev. Al Sharpton eloquently stated “Civil rights means civil rights for all and not just for some” in the aftermath of a series of attacks on the Hasidic community last winter. It’s safe to extrapolate that remark for tolerance and respect.

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