Sports stories about Major League Baseball thinking outside the batter’s box had us so perturbed at first that we wanted to boo.
Extend the 2020 baseball season into December? What, with ball girls and batboys in little elf costumes?
Start sooner but move all games to Arizona with no hometown advantage? Imagine games played in that hellish heat, in empty stadiums. How about MLB just sends players wandering alone into the desert and whichever team reports the fewest snake bites wins?
Then reality beaned us: With the country suffering through the coronavirus pandemic, maybe we should stop thinking 2020 should somehow get back to normal. Instead, in countless realms, we should exploit this forced interruption. Why don’t we let 2020 become the year of experimentation and exploration?
Put short: In many parts of our lives — including work, recreation and social obligations — let’s accept 2020 as The Year of the Asterisk in which we embrace, rather than deny, the upended reality.
Because what’s wrong, really, with a reinvented baseball calendar? Get ready for that oddity, along with a packed fall calendar when, hopefully, parties and celebrations can be rescheduled. Embrace that wedding on a Wednesday in October, the only date available at the banquet hall. A relationship commitment is essential. The day and time a cake gets cut? Not so much.
And why not organize a major family reunion — you know, the one that never happens because the West Coast clan won’t travel east and vice versa. In 2020 you can make it happen via videoconferencing because people crave connection and are in a more flexible frame of mind. Hello, cousin Pete (and please mute your microphone while washing dishes).
Defeating COVID-19 is job one. The health and safety of Americans is at stake. But for nonessential parts of our lives, let’s declare an attitude adjustment. Because the longer our stay-at-home protocol continues, the more we’re hearing variations of plaints that begin, “But we always ...”
But we always go to Aunt Rose’s for Easter.
But we always have the NBA Finals in June.
But we always rough out next year’s budget in September.
Each of these priorities is understandable. None is essential. Hey, if federal and state treasuries can live with later income tax deadlines, then a company’s vice president for finance can — just this once — truncate or eliminate some steps in the budgeting run-up to 2021. Maybe in The Year of the Asterisk, we cut the number of meetings in half.
Yes, our traditions, routines and good habits bind friends, families, workplaces, organizations. But giving ritual a rest liberates the imagination and invites ingenuity.
For example, just suppose Major League Baseball went ahead with a proposal to start the season in May, with all teams playing in Arizona’s spring training ballparks plus Chase Field, home of the Diamondbacks. It would be a safer alternative. It would be weird. And it would mess with player statistics. But it would be baseball. And in 2020 it could be just the thing to help restore normalcy — with an asterisk, obviously
— Chicago Tribune