AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - When I first came to Amarillo late last June, I had only been to three or four minor league baseball games in my life as a die-hard baseball fan.
My loyalties were to the New York Mets, and the Mets alone. When I wasn’t watching the Mets, I was working on graduating from college and bolstering my resume, and the same goes for my years during high school.
After covering my first Amarillo Sod Poodles game about a week or two into my first job post-college, I quickly realized there was an entirely different side of baseball I never truly appreciated nor knew. The Sod Poodles, who won the Texas League Championship in the first year of their existence in 2019, only made my newly added love of MiLB, and the stories that came with it, that much more enticing.
When the season ended, the only thing on my mind was the next season. As a colleague of mine, Garrett Zamora could attest to, I was like a little kid asking for a puppy. My excitement could not be contained for all the special projects we had planned for the 2020 season. From the second I first talked to now Weekend Sports Anchor, Claudia Faust, another die-hard fan of everything baseball related, the ideas and excitement only multiplied.
Then COVID-19 hit, and 2020 became everyone’s worst nightmare, especially for us sports fans, and those who’s job it was to cover sports. However, with baseball, compared to other sporting events like March Madness, there always remained some small doubt that maybe we could get both. Day after day passed, and the mishandling of negotiations between MLB owners and players then made that small bit of optimism into a dream, and that dream as of today, became a nightmare that has become our reality.
As more and more players continue to opt-out of playing in the 2020 MLB season, players in the minor leagues won’t even get the opportunity to make that decision for themselves. They lost that right due to the greed of millionaires and billionaires. Now yes, there’s more to the complex situation, and blame doesn’t belong to just one party, but it was still a poorly handled mess that I won’t get into right now.
I guess we should count ourselves lucky that we are at least getting a portion of a season for Major League Baseball. However, I can’t help but wonder if not having a MiLB season, no matter how short a season it would’ve had to be, would be for the best or the worst. I feel for the players who’s lives depend on the game being played, the small town economies that were bolstered by having a place like HODGETOWN, and of course, the fans now lacking the experience of attending a game in the first place.
With the COVID-19 pandemic worsening in some places, slightly improving in others, with no cure or vaccine being made available in the immediate future (I hope I’m wrong), it makes this bored and sad Sports Reporter wonder if we really should have had a season in the first place. After all, MiLB only survives because of the money they bring in from fans attending games and those local advertisements. There are no monstrous TV deals that benefit the professional organizations at the top levels.
As I write this article, I am in the lobby of an airport in Tampa, Florida, getting ready to return to Amarillo from my vacation. Reading the initial reports of the 2020 MiLB season being terminated with no official word from MLB being found on any of my social media accounts’ timelines, I only hope there is some good news or a smart explanation to everything that has happened. For now, all I know is, once again, I’m a little kid in the pet store anxiously waiting for the next season to come, because baseball needs the minor league, and so do we.
I am not a medical expert, nor do I claim to have any understanding of the complexities of the coronavirus, but I do know that we aren’t in the clear yet. If we want to have sports in the future, we need to be smart and aware now, even if that means not having baseball for a summer. These are my initial thoughts, and I’m still trying to wrap my head around the concept of a summer in America without a crucial aspect of baseball I have come to love.