How long will it be before the Miami Marlins can once again open their stadium and baseball can serve as a band-aid to help the country heal?
The Miami Marlins and the rest of Major League Baseball are still looking ahead to the great unknown. A pandemic that is still holding the world hostage and the idea of the 2020 season beginning in a few weeks shouldn’t be in the same conversation, but somehow the two are linked in terms of a national conscience on what is best for everyone’s health and finding some normalcy in a state of fear.
This is without a doubt the most difficult of times for the league where the season should have started two weeks ago. Seats in stadiums are empty. Players are not used to the lull of waiting for balls and strikes to be called. The waiting is the hardest part. The magnitude of baseball’s loss right now doesn’t compare with those dealing with sickness and death.
Still, there is hope the return of the game will reunite the masses.
"“Major League Baseball postponed its season four weeks ago because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic,” Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald writes.“When it will return and in what format are still unknown. Numerous hypotheticals are being discussed by the MLB and the MLB Players’ Association, including a recent report unveiled by ESPN that would quarantine all 30 teams in Phoenix and play games without fans as early as May.”"
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And for the Marlins front office, it’s a waiting game as well. Michael Hill, the team’s president of baseball operations, is bidding his time hoping for an end to isolation and a moment when fans and players can exhale ever so slightly.
He discussed it with McPherson as the Miami Marlins front office is still closed for business and employees are working remotely to ensure the franchise is ready when everyone is called back to work.
"“It’s an adjustment,” Hill said. “We talk so much about baseball being a game of adjustments. This is something that we’ve never seen before. We just try to get through it as best we can. Staying in constant communication with our people just because this is something new for everyone, something that the entire world is dealing with. … You devoted your lives and careers to this game. This is something new for all of us.”"
So much has been speculative these past few weeks as to when the game will be played and wins and losses will matter. There has been some talk of realignment, possibly the use of the designated hitter for all 30 teams and Arizona becoming the epicenter of baseball’s grand game, if only for a short period of time.
Hill was the team’s top salesperson this offseason, preaching how the tide has turned, change was in the air. These Miami Marlins were ready to change their path, the rebuild was almost complete. It showed on the diamond and how the energy in camp in Jupiter, Florida was different. These Marlins were full of youth and exuberance. It was exciting and it was fleeting.
Then, the world came to a screeching halt.
This will prove to be one of the more interesting and more complicated baseball seasons in years. More than the 1994 strike-shortened season. More than 2011 when baseball united a country. More than the 1981 season with the first strike since 1972. For all the right reasons, baseball could return and provide the excitement expected with everyone a contender.
But for now, the world has a few other things to deal with.
"“I think we all know that until we get this disease under control, we’re not anticipating getting back to work,” Hill said. “That’s the priority now. Get that under control. Once that happens, a lot of smart people will get together and put forth a plan for us to return to play.”"