NESN Diary: Could There Really Be No Baseball In 2020? (And Other Random Thoughts)


The NHL and NBA have been working on plans to return to action this summer.

The NBA is hopeful to begin games July 30, while the NHL is eyeing a July 10 date for training camps.

But the same cannot be said about Major League Baseball.

Spring training was suspended in March amid the COVID-19 pandemic and now the league and its Players’ Association have been at odds over how to start the shortened season.

And with each passing day without an update, it becomes an even greater risk that baseball won’t be a thing in 2020. It’s certainly weird to think about, especially here in Boston which has had perfect baseball weather of late.

It’s extremely disheartening that it’s come to this. As a die-hard baseball fan, I hit Fenway Park multiple times throughout the season and plan trips to other ballparks to take in the experience. I was lucky enough to visit three last year and had plans for at least three more in 2020. Of course, the coronavirus halted those plans and even if baseball comes back, fans likely won’t be allowed to attend games.

It’s also disappointing to hear commissioner Rob Manfred be “100 percent” confident a season will happen, only to backtrack five days later and say he in fact is not confident a season will happen at all. Talk about playing with my emotions.

But I also understand a lot happened in those five days in talks between MLB and the MLBPA. The players want to get paid a fair wage. The players want to be back on the field and do their jobs. There’s no questioning that.

The 1994 players strike damaged baseball, and there’s been plenty of talk about how to grow the game for new and old fans alike. Not playing this year only would cause more damage.

I want to believe there is a resolution, that baseball will be played and I’ll be able to cover my favorite sport again. But that’s becoming increasingly harder to be positive about as we cruise through June.

Manfred called where the league currently at a “disaster.” And boy, was he right.

Let’s take a look at what else came of this Tuesday:

— Sticking with baseball, Dr. Anthony Fauci urged MLB to not play in October if possible due to the second wave of COVID-19 that’s expected to hit the United States this fall.

But is it possible? Probably not. If the regular season ends Sept. 27, the postseason certainly will go well into October.

— Kyrie Irving has a crazy idea.

The Brooklyn Nets guard, who reportedly is very much against the NBA returning in Florida, reportedly wants to start his own league and forget about the bubble city altogether.

Um. OK.

“In a recent chat group with Nets players, Kyrie Irving lobbied for skipping the (NBA?s) bubble (in Orlando)? In that chat, he also proposed that the players can start their own league, according to a source,” New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy reported Tuesday.

— Speaking of players who don’t want to go to Florida, Jayson Tatum reportedly is one of them.

Bondy also reported Tuesday the 22-year-old, who’s eligible for a max contract after this season, “has expressed reluctance to play.”

That certainly would be a big blow to the Boston Celtics’ chances at Banner 18. But the health and safety of the players needs to come first. Plus, commissioner Adam Silver said players won’t be in breach of contract should they not play for any reason.

— Tom Brady debuted his new threads Tuesday as fans got their first look at the quarterback in a Tampa Bay Buccaneers uniform.

Moving on.

— Bill Russell penned an incredibly powerful op-ed in The Boston Globe on Tuesday. There’s really no other way to put it. Here’s an excerpt:

?I?ve been waiting my whole life for America to live up to that promise and the fact that it hasn?t, that in America the systemic and pervasive killing of Black and brown people has never been strange in the ?out of the ordinary? sense of the word, but only in the ?uncomfortable and ill at ease? sense of the word, adds up to nothing less than, in the words of that Billie Holiday song again, a strange and bitter crop of injustices, with bulging eyes and the twisted mouth, for the rain to gather, for the wind to suck, for the sun to rot, for the tree to drop.?

— Could some of the Bruins regulars rest during the round robin tournament?

Kind of sounds like it.

Boston head coach Bruce Cassidy held a Zoom call with NBC Sports Boston earlier this week and hinted toward just that.

“Do our veterans need all three games to get to the top of their game?,” Cassidy said, via Joe Haggerty. “Even if they do, should we play them and risk injuries? There?s a lot that goes into it. I think every team is probably going to have a little of the same approach (in the round-robin) and they are going to want to be at their best and healthiest headed into the playoffs.”

It certainly makes sense. Of course, the B’s probably want that No. 1 seed. But once that round robin concludes, they’re still in contention for the Stanley Cup.

But Cassidy also noted he’ll let the players make that decision.

— Is anyone surprised David Pastrnak was named the NHL’s “best dressed” for 2020? Didn’t think so.

The B’s right winger has donned some pretty eye-catching suits over the years, and seems to step up his game ever season.

Tweet Of The Day
Ah, yes, the 17-49-5 Detroit Red Wings.

Stat Of The Day
I like Lamar Jackson’s chances of continuing the streak of breaking the Madden curse.

Video Of The Day
A nice little throwback for your Tuesday.

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