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Is strange and distant Rangers baseball better than no Rangers baseball at all in 2020?

Photo: Alex Plinck/Dallas Sports Fanatic

Is strange and distant Rangers baseball better than no Rangers baseball at all in 2020?

Word began to trickle out about a possible plan for Major League Baseball to play its season at the various spring training/Arizona Diamondback facilities in the Phoenix area. In the report from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, there are all sorts of complicated concepts and ideas laid out for this plan that could kick off sometime in May or June. It seems unlikely to happen as MLB has since released a statement downplaying their level of commitment to a lot of the ideas laid out in the reported Arizona plan.

While there are a lot of things that could be tweaked or added to the potential Arizona idea, a few things are certain:

  • There would be no fans at games.
  • There would only be games in the Phoenix area, so no games at new Globe Life Field.

As Ranger fans have desperately waited to see a game at their new stadium, it’s hard to get too jazzed up about only seeing the Rangers play on TV in an empty spring training stadium in Arizona.  Is it better than no Rangers baseball at all though? Our writers gathered to discuss.

What are your impressions of the various ideas thrown out for ways to make the 2020 season happen? Do you think any of them will actually come to fruition?

Corey Douglass: These are not things that I see happening. Specifically, the Arizona idea where all 30 teams go there and play the season with no fans and different rules has been the worst idea I’ve seen. To me, it’s not logical to change the rules, play in the Arizona heat with no fans. And on top of all of that, guys would have to go away from their families for 4-5 months because they would have to be isolated.

Lexi Saldivar: I’ve been living on the hope that we have a late summer start, short season. As much as I’d love to pack a stadium and enjoy all normal baseball activities. I don’t think 50,000 people packing into a stadium is going to happen for a LONG time. This social distancing “new normal” we have going on is said to be encouraged even after we’ve flattened the curve of this virus. I wouldn’t want to change rules to the game because there’s no fun in that. So if the season started up, I’d want the baseball we all love. Same rules. Less games.

Going off what Corey said, some guys are away from their families for that long or LONGER anyway. Not that it makes it any better but if they are wanting to pick up baseball and get the ball rolling. I don’t see many guys being opposed to that, seeing as that’s their normal crazy life/schedule as it is.

Preston Young: Shutting the whole season down is the best option. Our DSF colleague Alex wrote a piece on this and I tend to agree. Let’s say MLB comes up with a plan and starts a truncated season in May or June. The league runs the risk of having to shut it down again because of players/staffers testing positive for the virus. I think the players would rather have a definite plan of shutting down entirely than playing every day waiting for the news that operations were shutting down again because of yet another outbreak.

Is a crazy, mashed together season played in front of no fans at neutral site stadiums better than no season at all? Obviously the league and players are motivated to make it happen financially, but does it even sound that exciting for a fan?

Corey: I may be in the minority here, but I’d rather have no season than watching games without fans. I think sports are meant to be played in front of people in the stands and I believe that the players feed off the energy in the crowd more than we may think. Baseball is already better in person than on TV and to me, the TV product becomes worse without fans because of how much downtime there is between pitches.

Lexi: As crazy as it sounds, I’d love a mashed up season in front of no fans, at neutral playing sites if it really came down to it. The way I see it, I’d rather have baseball than no baseball. If they really can’t start up a season with fans, watching it at home is what a majority of baseball fans do anyway! As much as we have always known games to be played in front of fans and the players thriving off of crowd energy, what we are going through in the world right now isn’t exactly normal. So why would we expect normal baseball? The one thing I think would change would be the camera view points. Rather than panning out to the crowd, focus on players in the outfield/infield. Give fans a different point of view on the game. I miss sports, period. And if I’m given a little something to keep me going and excited, all while keeping others excited about our season, team, and new stadium. Then so be it. I’d happily watch from home as a fan and continue to support it.

Dylan Duell: I can definitely agree with the opinions of both Corey and Lexi. The 12-year-old me is saying, “YES! BASEBALL, PLEASE! Summer is coming soon and I (again the 12-year-old me, not current me) have absolutely nothing to do! I want to watch baseball every single night!” While the current me is balancing working from home and helping my wife with our kids and house duties everyday, I still want that little nugget of something to look forward to at the end of the day. Sports was always that for me. I’m doing just fine without it. I’m enjoying different types of TV programming. A lot more HGTV than the aforementioned 12-year-old me would ever think of watching, but we all grow. Plus my wife and kids miss the comfort of baseball on in the background each night too. I miss seeing my son get excited about a Joey Gallo home run or the Fox baseball theme that always plays when they come back from break on FSSW. All of that makes me want to get baseball back as soon as possible, no matter what the form.

When I think about it a little more, I lean towards Corey’s point of view where I think that I’d honestly get pretty bored with the TV product of a baseball game without fans after a short honeymoon period. Playing in Arizona with a sparse crowd would remind of a Spring Training game. While I certainly watch the first one of those they show on TV in late February or early March each year, I never last past like the fourth inning because it just doesn’t seem like the real thing. Without a doubt, the biggest part of that is that the lineup becomes minor league players after a certain point in the game, but undoubtedly the low energy from the crowd definitely plays a part in it.

I’m not saying I’d rather have no season at all, but I am very skeptical that I’d still be tuning in for every game after a week or so. It just wouldn’t feel as vital.

There are a lot of complicated feelings for baseball and all other sports fans to sort through right now. We want to get back the games we love and the elation we feel while cheering for our teams. We also have to realize the importance of handling this disastrous virus outbreak the right way: with extreme caution and patience.

Unfortunately, it seems like following those rules as closely as we should would result in no games being played for quite a while longer.

Hang in there, Rangers fans. Stay safe.

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