In the aftermath of the recent COVID outbreaks that have affected Miami and St Louis, there has been a great deal of silliness propounded by both the league and the local writers. Here, a local columnist named Ben Frederickson all but gives up on the season – it’s a classic “sky is falling” article, full of the expected “woe is us” sentiment that usually accompanies a team working its way through a difficult time.
For their part, the league is re-scheduling all of these missed games as double-headers as quickly as the ink dries on the postponement. The Cards already have 6 scheduled, and will probably have 9 within a couple of days. Assuming that next week’s Pittsburgh series comes off, the Cards will be faced with the daunting challenge of completing 55 games in 49 days.
Just kill us now.
All of this, mind you, is against the backdrop of the league doing everything it can to coddle the players. May I remind you that the Universal DH nonsense (here is my rant against that) was implemented so that pitchers wouldn’t have to “fatigue themselves” by actually having to bat. But three doubleheaders in a week is OK.
The goofy extra-inning rules (ranted upon here) and the seven-inning doubleheaders were all crafted to ease the burden of a suddenly impossibly burdensome season.
All of this foolishness is almost certain to continue, and my small interjection of common sense will almost certainly vanish unheeded into the void. Nonetheless, if anyone out there – especially MLB – would like to know the right way to proceed, I will commend to them the sage counsel of those renowned British philosophers, the Beatles:
When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me speaking words of wisdom – let it be.
All of the angst that is building over these difficulties comes from the ridiculous imperative to cling to the full 60 games. Let it go. Let it be.
Some stories suggested that MLB was about to flush the whole season. Why? Because a couple teams have had temporary issues with the virus while 28 other teams have executed their protocols perfectly (at least so far)? Balderdash.
None of this is really rocket science. Let the teams that are healthy play. If teams (Miami, St Louis, perhaps some others over the next couple of months) have to drop some games to deal with an outbreak – well, OK, so they miss a few games. When these teams get back on their feet, they can make up such games as were lost in as sensible fashion as possible.
Here’s what that would look like for the Cardinals:
To this point, St Louis has lost 10 games – 4 against Detroit, 3 against Milwaukee, and 3 against the Cubs. Flush all of the doubleheaders that the powers that be have imposed. Give Detroit back its off-days. Look at the initial schedule, and let’s start over.
The Cards and Tigers (with the doubleheaders wiped) have no more games against each other. So, for the moment, let’s forget those games. We will hold them in abeyance, as it were. But for now, let’s make no effort to reclaim them.
St Louis has two more series this season scheduled with both the Brewers and Cubs. In each of those series, schedule one – and only one – doubleheader. That will make up two of the three games lost against each of those division opponents. At the end of the day – assuming that no more games are lost – St Louis would end up with 54 games played (90% of the schedule), all without unduly taxing the team in a breathless race to achieve that magic 60 mark. As September winds down, if it appears that any of the lost games might carry playoff importance, then plans can be made to accommodate that. With the schedule ending on September 27, I’m betting that those last few days of September might be available for tying up any loose ends.
I would recommend a similar approach for the Phillies and Marlins. Let it be. Make up the games that can be sensibly made up, and let the others go.
Now, this system will likely cost some home games. Both remaining series against Chicago will be in Wrigley, so – under my proposal – all 9 contests against the Cubs in this strange season would be in Chicago. Well, first of all, some of that was going to happen anyway. Among all the doubleheaders proposed by MLB, one had the Cards and Brewers making up a game that was supposed to take place in Milwaukee in St Louis. Additionally, the original schedule was fairly tilted, anyway. Of the 20 scheduled games against the Cardinals’ chief opponents in Chicago and Milwaukee, St Louis was going to be the road team in 13 of them.
Everyone’s main problem in trying to pick up the pieces here is that they want to make everything pretty and even. All of that needs to be secondary to just getting through all of this. With wacky rules and uneven schedules, this season is going to end with a giant asterisk behind it, regardless of how smoothly it does or doesn’t proceed. Let’s not make the whole thing an exercise in stupidity as well.
As for the Cards, yes, they have dug themselves into a bit of a hole. They weren’t playing exceptionally well when their season was halted, and now they will be coming off a nearly two week layoff on Monday (if, in fact, they are allowed to play on Monday). When they do play, they will have to hit the ground running without several key pieces of the club for an indeterminate time – and the losses of Yadier Molina, Paul DeJong, Carlos Martinez and the others will be felt.
But the Cards have better depth than people may realize, and have a history of playing their best under adverse conditions. It would help a lot if they also didn’t have to overcome the mindlessness of the powers that be.