By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub
Opening Day is now just 10 days away. The NBA and NHL are scheduled to resume in about two weeks, about the same time that NFL training camps are due to open.
So what’s your confidence level that these things will actually happen?
Don’t look now, folks, but we’re about to enter serious re-entry, as if we’re counting down the return of Apollo 13. And as we do so, one cannot help but wonder if the one sport that has alienated us the most remains the one with the best chance of returning.
Let me back up for a second. Throughout the spring, baseball evoked zero confidence in any of us. And I mean zero. Owners and players bickered over financial issues and aired their dirty laundry as if on a four-month camping trip. Commissioner Rob Manfred ultimately exercised his right to set the schedule and the season is due to open on July 23 with what would be a marquee matchup – the stacked-to-the-roof New York Yankees against the reigning world champion Washington Nationals.
And yet, I keep coming back to this: baseball has the best chance. It’s a no-contact sport in which the players rarely have to be within six feet of one another for any extended period of time. Social distancing is built in. If baseball can’t be played, other team sports have no hope – so you should be rooting hard for baseball even if you hate it.
Think about it: Basketball and hockey are played indoors. And the proximity of players in football is a pandemic-related recipe for disaster. Talk about a super-spreader.
Now, if we’re talking about respective confidence levels in the four major leagues, let’s be clear here: The NHL has earned our trust the most. From the very start, NHL officials have been deliberate, patient, seemingly painstaking. There has been little talk of unrest within the ranks. Owners and players hammered out financial terms and even extended their labor agreement.Meanwhile, basketball players grappled with social issues and the NFL is now – like baseball thought not nearly as insultingly – haggling over money.
From the outside looking in, hockey appears to have its stuff together, independent of whether or not that actually means anything.
What happens from here? Excellent question. Of course, what we want to happen and what actually will are two entirely different things. And as we move closer and closer to the return to team sports in Boston and America, I keep ending up in the same place.
Baseball might be what you want the least.
But it might be your best chance, whether you like it or not.