It feels like Major League Baseball owners are just itching to start the 2020 season—fans or no fans.
No fans in attendance? I have a hard time with that, whether it’s baseball, football, basketball or professional wrestling. The roar of the crowd (or the groans) are what make live sports as exciting as they are. It’s hard to imagine Aaron Judge hitting a game-winning homer in the bottom of the ninth and no one there to cheer, but this is where we are now era of the coronavirus. It would certainly be unwise to fill a stadium with fans and eschew social distancing during a pandemic.
Well, I guess they could always pipe in fan noise. The most important thing, in the eyes of MLB owners, is getting the season started by July. They have too much money to lose, and baseball owners hate to lose money.
While ballpark attendance accounts for about 50 percent of MLB revenue, through ticket prices, concessions, corporate signage and souvenirs, television also stuffs the coffers. Owners don’t want to lose that revenue. They’ve got million-dollar ballplayer contracts to pay, as well as mortgages on their third vacation homes.
For that reason, MLB will push ahead with a season while the vicious virus continues to plague the country with no signs of subsiding. There’s another factor as well. Attendance was down last season as games dragged on with too many strikeouts and not enough balls put into play. MLB doesn’t want fans to lose any more interest, which could happen by taking a full season off.
I have mixed feelings about the return of baseball with no fans. It’s definitely the prudent approach, but seems kind of dull.
Well, I guess any baseball is better than none.
I visit a lot of schools to give writing talks and promote my sports mystery novel “Out of Bounds,” and sometimes kids are amazed when I tell them that I did research on the book. They think of fiction as coming totally from your imagination, like fantasy. Why would you need to do research?
But I write realistic fiction, which needs to present a storyline that’s believable. I want the reader to think the story I’m telling can actually happen, and in fact, similar scandals to the one in “Out of Bounds” have occurred, including one in Madison, Conn.
Having been a sportswriter for most of my life, I know sports and journalism well. However, there were things I didn’t know that I needed to research. One was police policies for the particular crime that’s committed in the book. I needed to know what the penalties would be and how the police investigation would be carried out.
To learn more about that, I contacted Det. Robert Kozlowsky of the Shelton (Conn.) Police Department, and he was quite helpful in explaining how an investigation would go down.
Another thing I had to learn is how high school newspapers are run these days, since some of the scenes in “Out of Bounds” take place in a school newsroom. I paid a visit to teacher Carolyn Finley, who graciously allowed me to observe her class putting the Gael Winds together at Shelton High. I not only soaked in the nuts-and-bolts of the process, I observed the different personalities of the students, which helped me form characters in the book.
Both Det. Kozlowsky and Mrs. Finley were invaluable resources in writing “Out of Bounds,” which is why they are acknowledged in the front of the book.
Research isn’t the sole domain of nonfiction writers. Often fiction writers need to do it too. I’m convinced that accurate research helped make “Out of Bounds” a national finalist in the Readers’ Favorite Awards.
Did Tom Brady cheat by deflating the football or not? That's the question everyone is pondering right now. If he did, it's gamesmanship at best and cheating at worst.
But the real issue is why does the NFL allow the visiting team and the home team to furnish different sets of balls while on offense. This is absurd. Can you imagine a baseball pitcher getting to use his own ball when he takes the mound or a basketball player getting to shoot free throws with a ball that is smoother or slightly inflated or deflated? It's crazy to think that games are conducted with two sets of balls in the NFL.
This doesn't happen in high school or college football, nor should it. You have to have one uniform ball for both teams to make the sport legitimate. The home team should not be allowed to supply its own footballs.
Lord knows why the NFL allows this. Maybe it's trying to make both quarterbacks comfortable so there's more offense for the fans. But when the same ball isn't used for both teams throughout the game, the integrity of the sport is compromised.
“Out of Bounds” readers will surely see connections to some of the nasty things going on in the NFL these days. The news has gotten so bad in recent days, even kickers have gotten into the act.
The most recent transgression came when Rob Bironas allegedly tried to run a vehicle filled with college students off the road in what appeared to be a case of road rage. The former Tennessee Titans kicker soon crashed and killed himself—a sad ending to a young life.
Coming on the heels of Ray Rice’s violence against his now-wife and allegations of child abuse against superstar running back Adrian Peterson, the NFL is awash in bad behavior.
First up is Rice. There’s never any excuse for a man to hit a woman. I don’t even like it when women hit women in the UFC. In some ways pro football players must overcome their profession and its culture of violence on the field. They need to learn to turn violence off. Domestic abuse is a challenge that policemen face too, and the violence and pressure they face each day is far greater than any sport. I pray that Rice and his wife can overcome this incident and go on to have a long, peaceful marriage.
Adrian Peterson’s act is just as despicable, although I think that in some misguided way, he thought his was properly disciplining his child. Paddling used to be accepted. I remember myself and my siblings getting paddled as children—even threats of my father taking off his belt (although that never happened). The principal at my middle school in Long Island even had a paddle in his office, and parents were agreeable, in most cases, if he used it. Can you imagine that today?
Thankfully, standards have changed for the better. There is no reason to ever strike a child. All it does is cause pain and teach them that violence is the way to solve a problem. And what Peterson allegedly did goes way beyond paddling. It was truly child abuse.
There are better ways to discipline a child than physical violence. Every parent should know that by now.