Bock’s Score: Hello, Baseball

Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire

Well, hello, Baseball.

It’s so nice to have you back where you belong.

With apologies to Miss Dolly and without so much as a single cardboard cutout or a single piped in artificial crowd noise, Major League Baseball returned to America the other day.

At least that was what they called it.

It was celebrated by snowflakes in Detroit, confusing a home run for a double, personal resin bags for pitchers and remote first pitches in the age of COVID-19 restrictions, and the foolishness of free runners in extra innings to decide three other games.

Is this really baseball? This is our National Pastime? Really? Seven-inning games in doubleheaders? At least they’re giving us 162 games instead of a hybrid 60-game season.

Detroit Tigers’ slugger Miguel Cabrera touched off the silliness with a home run in his first at-bat against Cleveland’s Cy Young winner, Shane Bieber. Miggy ignored the snow and the sub-30 degree wind chill and turned on a pitch from Bieber, sending it soaring toward the right field seats at Comerica Park. In conditions which were hardly conducive to catching a baseball, the ball glanced off a fan’s hands and back on the field. Cabrera thought it might be in play and slid into second base for what he thought was a double.

No, no, Miguel. The umpires waved him home. And through the flakes he completed his home run trot, maybe a bit confused but certainly very grateful. It was the deciding hit in a 3-2 Tigers victory and considering the condition of the team’s roster, there may not be that many more of them.

In Los Angeles, Justin Turner’s base running blunder turned Cody Bellinger’s home run into an out in the Dodgers’ loss to Colorado. Bellinger’s ball glanced off the glove of outfielder Raimel Tapia and into the seats. Turner thought the ball was caught and retreated to first base only to have Bellinger, in his home run trot, pass him on the base paths, erasing the homer.

What’s more, the Rockies scored a run on a squeeze bunt. How revolutionary in the world of New Age baseball.

COVID-19 means no sharing of a universal resin bag by pitchers. Can’t be too careful. MLB decided there were too many home runs being hit including a record 6,776 in 2019, the last full season, so Rawlings was ordered to raise the seams on balls to make them less bouncy.

In New York, the Yankees’ ceremonial first pitch was delivered remotely by Bernie Williams. After that, Toronto beat the Yankees by scoring the winning run on the whacky free runner on second base to start all extra innings rule, dreamed up by commissioner Rob Manfred and his helpers. Milwaukee and Philadelphia also won their games the same way.

Is all this what Miss Dolly had in mind?

About the Author

Hal Bock

Hal Bock covered sports for 40 years at The Associated Press including 30 World Series, 30 Super Bowls and 11 Olympics. He is the author of 14 books including most recently The Last Chicago Cubs Dynasty and Banned Baseball's Blacklist of All-Stars and Also-Rans. He has written scores of magazine articles and served as Journalist In Residence at Long Island University's Brooklyn campus where he also served on the selection committee for the George Polk Awards.

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