How will baseball fans view the 2020 champions Atlanta Braves?
Atlanta Braves‘ fans may have felt some semblance of joy when the news was reported that the MLB player’s union had rejected the most recent proposal from the owners and followed their rejection with, “Just tell us where to show up and when.” So, I guess we might have baseball in 2020?
And now that we have the idea that baseball will, possibly, be played in 2020, albeit a shortened 50-ish game season, questions will shift from “will the players get full prorated salaries” to “OK, so what does this season even mean?”
The question morphed into, How will coaches, players, and other baseball fans remember the 2020 World Series champs after the shortened season, public negotiations, etc.?
Jayson Stark of the Athletic mused on similar questions in his recent article concerning what an 82-game season would look like. Stark wanted to know how coaches and players would feel if their team wins the World Series in 2020?
Terry Francona, manager of the Cleveland Indians, had the following thoughts on the issue:
"“It is what you make of it. If our guys are jumping in the pile at the end of the year, I don’t give a sh*t where we play or when we play or who we play. That just means we’ve been better than every team we played. And I’ve been trying to drive home that point every time I talk to our guys. … There may not be crowds. Will there be challenges and concerns? Sure there will. But if we handle them the right way, we’ll have fun with it. And if we don’t, it won’t be any fun at all.”"
I happen to agree with Mr. Francona. If every team has their stars in the lineup every night, and that is a big “IF,” then why wouldn’t winning the World Series be as special as any other season?
Many of the variables that plague a regular 162-game schedule would remain the same in a shortened 48 to 60 game season. In baseball, like life, part of the fun is the excitement surrounding the peril or the beauty of the unknown every day.
How would the players feel if they won the World Series in 2020? Jayson Stark asked Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds the same question:
"“I feel very strongly that any team that wins the World Series, even in an abbreviated season, will get full credit and will be able to enjoy it. And I’ll be honest with you. The more I think about winning the World Series this year, I think it’s freaking worth more.”"
In a year filled with chaos, baseball and celebrations are something many people are longing for because of what they represent – tradition. And tradition represents “order” or the “known.”
Votto, along with many other players, might see a World Series championship celebration as an opportunity for the masses to celebrate together during a year when a pandemic has told us to isolate ourselves, and the news cycle constantly emphasizes our differences.
But how will the fans view the 2020 World Series champs? How will you feel if the Braves win it all in 2020?
In my humble opinion, fans will rejoice if their team wins it all, and shrug off any other team that wins and label it as “unofficial.” But the official records book of Major League Baseball won’t care what fans think.
The official record book of Major League Baseball does not contain a single asterisk (*), and this would not be an occasion to break that tradition.
Fans should realize this year’s MLB season has the potential to be so much more because of the chaos we have all faced thus far this year.
Baseball has the power to bring us back together. As Terence Mann of Field of Dreams reminds us all:
"“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again.”"
So now at the crossroads of whether or not we actually see baseball in 2020, we think of the hypothetical World Series champs with disdain as we project our feelings of the negotiations on the future champs.
But if and when Braves baseball returns in 2020, we will remember the champs more fondly, I believe, as it ultimately meant a return to something we have all known and loved for so long – baseball.