What baseball fans wouldn’t give to see J.D. Martinez and Aroldis Chapman stare down each other with the game on the line.
The battles between the Boston Red Sox slugger and New York Yankees closer are among 10 things MLB.com’s Richard Justice misses about Major League Baseball, as spring training and the start of the 2020 season remain delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Justice pines for scenarios such as the Red Sox and Yankees being locked in a tight contest, with the winner of the Martinez-Chapman showdown likely to determine which team emerge victorious.
“You’re free to come up with your own late-inning matchup,” Justice wrote Tuesday. “It’s that moment when the hitter is in the box and the pitcher has the sign. Everything we love about Major League Baseball is summed up in that singular moment of expectation with a game on the line, and each team putting its best in position to win the game. You can’t turn away whether these are your favorite teams or not.”
Here’s where it’s worth noting that Martinez threw shade at Chapman in 2018, saying the Yankees closer doesn’t intimidate hitters like he once did because other pitchers now are throwing 100-mph fastballs, too. Those were the days.
Fenway Park also appears on Justice’s list, with Boston’s beloved baseball home representing some of sports’ most beautiful vistas.
“There’s a spirit to them (ballparks and their quirks), not just the older parks like Fenway Park and Wrigley Field, but all of them,” Justice wrote. “No matter how many times you see a diamond, you are struck by its symmetry and beauty. Some fans get through the gates as early as possible because they love the feel of an empty park while knowing how the place will be transformed over the next few hours. Many team employees love eating lunch while sitting alone in an empty park. As one said, there’s a power to these places.”
If MLB decides to start the season next month in Arizona, as reports suggest the league is considering, it would be an imperfect solution to an unprecedented problem. However, it just might produce duels and sights that’ll satisfy some of Justice’s longings.