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5 good things about Opening Day, even without the baseball

It’s baseball season.

MLB: Spring Training-Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Things are bad right now, if you hadn’t noticed. The country is slowly shutting down, with Colorado entering a stay-at-home order this morning, following the lead of states more hard-hit by the COVID-19, and the whole thing sucks a giant egg. The only good news is that it is Opening Day. There won’t be any baseball, but it’s still friggin’ Opening Day. We made it.

It’s not normal, of course. We “made it” in the sense that sci-fi adventurers “make it” to a far-flung destination only to find out it’s barren and inhospitable to life, and the oxygen is running low everywhere but inside the spaceship, and oh yeah, the air is poison. So it doesn’t seem too great in that light. But still: This date was circled on the calendar for a long time, in reality or metaphorically, and now we are stuck inside it just as we stuck inside our homes.

Instead of the bad I’m going to focus on the good, because we all need this. Let me go over some positives in this terrible time:

There will be a baseball season

I increasingly believe this, when a week ago I would have thought such a suggestion was madness. Put simply: People need something to do, and playing or watching baseball is something to do. There won’t be a full season and there won’t be fans to start, but if it becomes safe to move the sport along, Ron Manfred will move the sport along, not just for those concerns but more prosaic ones like “not losing an entire league year and thereby throwing away every dollar committed thereto.”

If there is not a baseball season, the Sox won the Mookie Betts trade

I hate this angle because is absolves John Henry and Chaim Bloom of their crime against baseball, but it’s absolutely true that if the 2020 season is scrapped and everyone accrues a year of service time, the Sox offloaded Betts to L.A. at literally zero cost to themselves. That would be a coup, of course, and the conspiracy-theory minded could attribute to Bloom a sense of wunderkind foresight (i.e., reading the international news) that lit a fire anew under the organization as Spring Training approached, with the suspicion that things would get worse before they got better. Such a clear portrait of the future is normally reserved for the keeper of the Time Stone, but for argument’s sake, let’s say Bloom had it here, or is in fact the keeper of the Time Stone. You could hardly play everything better, especially if the player market collapses after this, and especially if, with salaries potentially dropping against fallow revenue projections, they ended up re-signing Betts in the offseason.

(They are not signing Betts in the offseason.)

Rafael Devers

MLB: Spring Training-St. Louis Cardinals at Boston Red Sox Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The rebuilding of the farm system will continue apace

In the wake of the Betts trade, Henry scoffed at the idea that this was a “bridge year,” noting that the team’s payroll would suggest otherwise. Now it’s a “bridge year” for everyone inside baseball and out, and the bridge is rickety and dangerous and scary and the only thing to do is take your time. This is bad news for teams like the Dodgers but, again, almost perfectly timed for the Red Sox, insofar as “good” timing is possible in a pandemic. Soon, maybe, the team will even know the penalties they face for alleged sign-stealing, and get the full scope of the hill they’ll be climbing, but who even knows any more? The umbrella point is that when you have GM who’s good at building from the bottom-up it’s a good time to be stuck at home. There’s a lot of gardening to do, literally and figuratively.

It is still Opening Day

Let’s bring is full circle to wrap this up. You made it. Not to put too fine a point on it, but that’s not true of everyone. It never is. The only thing you can do now is hold on until baseball starts — it could be 6 weeks, 3 months, almost a full year until then, but it is now officially baseball season. Almost nothing makes me feel better these days, but that’s one of them. Stay safe, people.