With the 2020 season nearly upon us in the form of “Summer” Spring Training, we need to consider the “asterisk” problem.
In recent years, it’s become status quo to label records with an asterisk under certain conditions. Although nobody is going to challenge Barry Bonds‘ 73 home runs, there are other records that could be at risk with a much shortened season. For example, hitting .400 will never be easier than with only 60 games to play.
A player hitting .400 in a season was almost something that happened during the 1980 season, when George Brett posted a .390 average after being limited to 117 games for the Kansas City Royals. Ted Williams turned the trick in 1941 while playing for the Boston Red Sox, putting up a .406 average while hitting a major-league leading 37 homers and adding 120 RBI. A player who hits 20 shots this year will be in the running for the league-lead.
Normally, a 40-loss season would be cause for celebration, but this year, the team that loses 40 games will likely be the last place team. The flip-side of that, of course, is that it should only take a moderate hot-stretch to get a likely also-ran into the money this year. The Miami Marlins, forecast to win somewhere in the neighborhood of 66-to-72 games (depending on the source), should now be projected to bank somewhere around 24-to-27 wins.
The question needs to be asked — is all this really worth the risk? With Coronavirus cases spiking in population centers, including the states of California, Texas, and Florida, is it worth a contained surge of sick major league players? More than a few teams have reported some members of their teams testing positive for the COVID-19, including the Miami Marlins.
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After all, these young men are putting themselves and their teammates (and their families) at risk by agreeing to play at all. Is our entertainment worth the loss of even one life? I think one life is too steep a price to pay at any rate.
So we’re likely to see someone hit .400 lead the league with 20 homers, and win the pennant after winning 40 or so games. Of course, you and I will be watching. I’ve seldom been this starved for sports in my life, and neither have you. We’ve never seen anything like this, and I would probably watch curling at this point.
Whatever the risk, and whatever the cost, they’re going to play the games. We’ll be happy to consume them, even if they play all their games to an empty stadium. Thanks for reading.