What kind of cosmic cruelty is this nonsense?
Two weeks after baseball and the sporting world came to a crashing halt due to concerns centering around the spread of the coronavirus, Major League Baseball’s annual holiday is just an afterthought in most people’s minds. While the game in Cleveland had not generated the usual celebratory hype (most notably seen in the lackluster ticket sales and the lack of a rapid sellout for the best-attended game of every season) for a variety of reasons – underwhelming offseason, boring matchup against an abysmal Detroit Tigers team, and the likelihood for inclement weather at Progressive Field in late March, to name a few – Opening Day still marks a turning of the tides and the hopes of summer and fair weather not too far off on the horizon.
Of course, the forecast for 1:00 PM on Thursday afternoon is 59 degrees with a roughly 15% chance of rain throughout the afternoon and a reasonable 10-15 MPH wind that would not feel like it was cutting to the bone as in previous chillier Opening Days on the Cleveland lakefront.
Instead of 30,000-plus heading down to the Indians’ gem on the north shore, many fans are trapped in their houses while Ohio implements a self-quarantine to try to limit the contagion that is COVID-19. (This need not apply to me, as I have been deemed an essential employee by the state and get to work throughout the pandemic doing things not related at all to baseball while being steadily exposed to other human beings and their pesky germs.)
For those who will be home and have that Indians’ fever (a far better fever to have these days, given the circumstances), you can get at least some taste of baseball on Thursday while we hold our collective breaths that things stabilize in the country and that we can return to some semblance of normalcy soon, which would hopefully include the beginning of the delayed 2020 season.
Major League Baseball announced on Wednesday that it will ride the social distancing wave and will run an “Opening Day at Home” event throughout the day on Thursday in honor of what would have been the start of the regular season for all 30 teams. The scheduling slate includes a classic game for each team and may highlight postseason appearances, no-hitters, or other special outcomes. The Indians will be recognized early in the day at 9:00 AM as the league looks back at the final win of their 22-game winning streak in 2017 (the content will also be available on Las Mayores Facebook). For those who can stomach it, Game 7 of the 2016 World Series will be aired at 6:05 PM ET on both MLB.com and the MLB YouTube channel and a different look at the finale of the ‘16 title series and other World Series clinchers will be shown on FS1 beginning at 7:00 PM ET.
Games will be streamed across a range of platforms, beginning with MLB.com as well as the league’s various social media channels, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
MLB Network is also participating, broadcasting Opening Day games from the archives beginning at 1:00 PM ET with the Indians hosting the New York Yankees in Derek Jeter’s first Opening Day game in 1996 (SPOILERS: for those who don’t remember or weren’t alive yet, the outcome for the Tribe was not so good…). ESPN 2 will show four different Home Run Derby events from 2015, 2017, 2018, and last season’s contest at Progressive Field.
Additionally, all games from the 2018 and 2019 seasons are available to fans via the MLB.TV service.
MLB will also take the opportunity to raise money for Feeding America, Meals on Wheels, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and other causes through its website.
Enjoy some classic baseball games on the viewing device of your choice Thursday, because the real start of the 2020 season still seems far, far away.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images