Usually by March 14th, all the anticipation and speculation of spring training is starting to wear a little thin. Now, with no professional baseball in sight, a nice, meaningless exhibition game is starting to sound pretty good.
In response to growing worries about the spread of coronavirus, Major League Baseball announced on Thursday the suspension of spring training and a minimum two-week delay of the regular season, part of a cascade of notices that sports across the globe were canceling play.
Ballplayers want to feel safe when they take the field, and teams, along with several municipalities that have issued bans on large public gatherings, want to err on the side of caution. These considerations have understandably been MLB’s priority.
But from a fan’s perspective... man, what a bummer. All the games that might be canceled, the wages of stadium workers that will definitely be lost, the uncertainty around when — or if — baseball will be back for 2020. Almost everything about the situation is downright depressing.
Almost. For all the gloomy news, it’s still a great time to be a Yankees fan, and a baseball fan generally, because in many ways, we have never been better equipped to weather this kind of storm.
With loads of digital content, social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram, and online communities like Pinstripe Alley, baseball fans have more resources than ever to share ideas and information, and to support one another, their favorite teams, and their favorite players.
The wealth of digital content available to the baseball-loving public is overwhelming. You can lose yourself in over three million (!) searchable clips on MLB’s new advanced video search, or dive into a near-endless supply of baseball podcasts, starting of course with Pinstripe Alley’s own Bomber Brothers podcast.
And this doesn’t even touch upon more traditional baseball content like books and TV — much of which has also migrated to the digital world. The game’s great trove of literature is more accessible now than ever with online retailers and eBooks.
Plus, from FanGraphs to Bill James, there is a ton of great writing that’s free to read online. Or if you’re the sort who springs for an Amazon Prime subscription, you can watch 18.5 hours of Baseball, the documentary by Ken Burns.
Although social media get a bad rap — often justifiably — these platforms are also spaces fans use to commune with one another, or to share a silly meme to lighten the mood, or to connect with the players who give them joy.
Social media can be a force good, too. Inadequate as his response to the sign-stealing scandal still seems, Rob Manfred might have done even less to address the issue were it not for intrepid detectives on Reddit and Twitter who blew open the door Mike Fiers nudged ajar.
More importantly, social media sometimes help fans tackle pressing matters. The user @adoptmilbplayer has begun a crowdfunding campaign to help minor league players during the indefinite suspension of their season. Through donations, fans can sponsor a minor leaguer to help replace the lost income they were counting on in March and April. It’s an awesome demonstration of how fans can use a simple tool to accomplish something special.
Ultimately, we can enjoy one another’s company. I’ve only been contributing to Pinstripe Alley for six weeks, but I’ve appreciated how consistently engaged and knowledgeable the folks in the comments section are, day in, day out. Undoubtedly, you all will share your own ideas and resources in the coming weeks, in the comments here and elsewhere.
Life can be tough, and life without the Yankees will make it just a bit tougher. But although the game is on hiatus, the dynamic, information-rich ecosystem built by its fans continues to thrive. That’s why even with the future of the 2020 season up in the air, there’s never been a better time to love baseball.