Major League Baseball made an absolute fool of itself.
Over the last three months, the team owners, represented by commissioner Rob Manfred, and the players, represented by the Player’s Association and Tony Clark, publicly haggled over money during the same time the country suffered through a pandemic, tens of millions left jobless and protests of social injustice, all while the other major sports leagues (NBA, NHL, MLS, WNBA) put its plans into place to resume play.
What a mess it was.
And yet, on Tuesday evening, as my wife and I strolled our three-month-old son through the neighborhood on our nightly walk, the news broke that the sides had officially agreed upon details to return.
“Baseball. Is. Back,” the notification read on my phone.
I turned to my wife, with the biggest of grins spread across my face, and informed her that the bickering between both sides via social media had finally come to an end.
The game I love so much was coming back into our lives.
It’s a game I was shown as a young child by my dad. One that I quickly became infatuated with and couldn’t get enough of.
Growing up, my neighbors and friends would hurry over to my backyard – it had the perfect ballpark dimensions – as soon as they woke up, ate breakfast and brushed their teeth to begin playing wiffleball until the sun went down and we could no longer see well enough to make contact at the plate.
Once the fireflies were out for the night, we’d all make our way back home for dinner and hop into bed before doing it all again the next day.
For me, it wasn’t just eating dinner, getting a quick shower, and closing my eyes for the night, though.
No, the sport led me into an obsession I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to not have in my life in some capacity – the Cincinnati Reds.
My dad grew up a Reds fan and, therefore, I inherited that fanhood – and unfortunate heartbreak – as a young boy too.
After a full days-worth of smacking wiffleballs around the backyard, I would run inside, shovel as much food into my mouth and park my backside in front of the television just as former Reds play-by-play announcer George Grande would pop on the screen with his nightly welcome of, “Hi, hello, and welcome to Reds baseball. Alongside the crafty left-hander Chris Welsh, I’m George Grande.”
n the early 2000s, the Reds weren’t any good. Actually, they were flat out horrible.
Other than Ken Griffey Jr. rewriting history with the number of career home runs he collected and Adam Dunn launching balls into the Ohio River, there wasn’t much to get excited about.
But that didn’t seem to matter.
I watched each game and loved every second of it.
The same holds true to this day, although I’m hopeful the ole Redlegs will be quite a bit better after adding quite the haul of talent over the winter months.
No matter the team’s record or viability of becoming a playoff team, I’ve either listened to every game on the radio or watched them on television, on my iPad, or my phone going on close to two decades now.
And so, when baseball went dark during the last three months – and the pessimism grew stronger with every tweet that was sent from national reporters describing the latest negotiation update – I thought introducing my young son to the sport, and team, I love so dearly wouldn’t be possible this summer.
But seeing those three simple words glowing on my phone screen Tuesday night made me one happy guy.
Over and over, I told him, ‘Baseball’s coming back, buddy. We’re going to get to watch the Redlegs soon.’
He had no idea what I was saying, but kept giving the biggest smile back and made my excitement grow that much stronger.
I can’t wait for July 24 to appear on the calendar and to watch the Reds get the season underway next to my little guy.
The only thing – and it's a big thing – that can get in the way of that happening is the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.But for now, we'll use those three words as something positive to look forward to.
Baseball’s finally back.