Miami Marlins fans like myself are still learning to cope without baseball in a world quarantined by the coronavirus.
It’s been 19 days since major-league baseball pulled the plug on the Marlins spring training games.
It seems like forever. As the sports world plays second fiddle to an international pandemic, I try to find solace in the fact that one day this game will be played again and hopefully the world will be whole once more.
The Marlins were everything that is right about this game for three weeks in Spring Training. Youthful exuberance, veteran leadership, and hope that hasn’t been felt since 2016 when Jose Fernandez and the Marlins we’re on the brink of a playoff berth.
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Now the script is changed. The players are younger. The pitching staff is still developing. The roster looks to be more competitive. That same script has also changed for those of us who cover the team on a daily basis.
I’ve lived through baseball strikes. As a fan, I felt the impact of 9/11. But it’s something like this that gives me pause and appreciate the beauty of this game even more. In watching the Marlins on the field, I could tell there has been changed for the better. The blueprint the front office has preached since the team was bought by Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter appears to have a purpose.
Sometimes it’s hard to separate being a fan and a sports writer. I love baseball more than any other sport. And I really miss watching the Marlins play night after night. My hope is that this situation, which is greater than any sport out there, comes to an end and we fans find normalcy once again.
Before the start of spring training, I had this idea that Don Mattingly, Jeter, and the team’s front office knew something we didn’t know. There was this surprise we were all going to find out about. Unlike other teams in other cities, these Marlins would shock the world and play above their heads more so than we expect them to. That could still happen given the length of the season and how other teams respond to the time off from the game.
For now we have possibilities without solutions. We have the belief the Marlins will hit more than 146 home runs and have a better team batting average than .241 for the season. We hope Sandy Alcantara becomes the ace we think he’s going to be. And we want to see Caleb Smith strikes out 250 batters. And we all pray to the baseball gods this bullpen will be much better than the one we saw last season.
It’s only been 19 days. It seems like an eternity. Hopefully, the Marlins play again this season. But hopefully, the things that we have talked about it and wished and hoped for will come true. For now jus,t the thought of baseball being played in a ball park near you and me keeps everything in perspective.
The Marlins may shock us this year given the peculiarity of how things are. Wouldn’t that be amazing? In a time where we need something joyous and unexpected from this team, getting back to baseball could be just the right elixir for everything that we’ve waited for.