My name is Mallory Chavez and I am currently studying Elementary Education with an emphasis in History at Idaho State University. Two of my favorite hobbies are CrossFit and backpacking. I am the pitching coach for a local travel softball team. When I'm not hiking or coaching, you can catch me watching baseball and eating Thai food. I grew up watching the Washington Nationals play in D.C., so naturally, they are my favorite baseball team. When I’m done with college, I plan to teach in the Pacific Northwest and own a corgi or two.
I Love Baseball, But I Don't Want a 2020 Return
In the last few weeks, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) have been going back and forth with proposals to begin the 2020 season. As we all know, like every other sport, MLB postponed its season due to COVID-19. When this decision was made, I was devastated. I was in the process of packing my bags to go watch Spring Training in Arizona with the potential to attend Opening Day in New York City.
When the proposals for a potential 2020 season started, I was thrilled. I could not wait for the day the greatest game on earth made its return. You see, my favorite team, the Washington Nationals just won its first World Series title in the most unpredictable way. I was antsy to see how the reigning world champs would fair. After losing arguably the best third baseman in baseball in order to keep one of the best pitchers in the league, as a fan, I looked forward to seeing how the roster moves would impact the team. I also was eager to watch the actions of fans of baseball regarding the Astros cheating scandal. However, watching the process of beginning a season in the middle of a global pandemic unfold, I quickly lost that excitement for a 2020 season.
Photo by Mallory Chavez
Like many baseball fans, I had a lot of heartburn towards the Commissioner, Robert Manfred. As I watched the way he handled the Astros cheating scandal along with the punishments handed down to Alex Cora for his involvement, I was frustrated. Fast forward to the proposals being made to start a 2020 season and that frustration grew. There is a lot that goes into these proposals. Between pay cuts, travel restrictions, no fans, different rules, etc., coming to an agreement seems nearly impossible. Playing the game seems impractical. At the end of the day, the billionaire owners are more worried about money rather than the health and safety of the players. The reality is, they do not care about their players unless they are making money off of them. Major League Baseball is just a business and the players are the pawns. Don’t even get me started on the way Minor League Baseball players are treated. Robert Manfred won’t step in to defend the rights of the players because he knows that he works for the owners. If he makes the owners unhappy, he will lose his job. Instead, he stays quiet.
The fact of the matter is that we are still in the middle of a global pandemic. The health and safety of the players and their families should be of utmost importance. To expect them to play a season that includes traveling is selfish. To put their families at risk is ridiculous. There are many players who have family members that are considered high risk. There are even players who are high risk themselves due to underlying conditions. Why, as fans, do we believe they should risk their lives just for us to watch a baseball game?
The next reason for not wanting a 2020 baseball season is due to the protests regarding police brutality. On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, an African American man, was killed by a white police officer named Derek Chauvin. Floyd was accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill and Chauvin later pressed his knee to the back of Floyd’s neck, killing him. What has followed after this most recent event of police brutality, has been nothing short of a revolution.
For the last week, people across the entire nation have been protesting police brutality. It is a well-known fact that racism lives within our country. It is also a well-known fact that police brutality happens every single day to minorities, especially black people. Now, I know not all police officers are bad but I will not deny the brutality that exists. Quite frankly, it’s sickening. Many people have been murdered due to police brutality but Floyd’s death seems different. The protests seem different. The anger feels stronger and deeper than ever.
What we are watching before us is a revolution. A revolution to stand by black people. A revolution to show solidarity with minorities across America. A revolution to end police brutality. A revolution to end racism.
You might be wondering why the death of George Floyd has anything to do with me not wanting baseball back. Here’s why: if we bring baseball back as we are watching a revolution unfold, it will take away from the bigger issues within our country. Black men and women are dying at the hands of those who have sworn to protect us. They are literally fighting for their lives in a way many people don’t have to fight for. Bringing baseball back will only overshadow that fight. If we bring back baseball or any sport for that matter now, it will be tainted. It won’t be the same.
Many say that sports help heal. We watched it happen with 9/11. There was nothing more unifying than watching Mike Piazza hit a home run in the eighth inning to lift the Mets to a victory over the Braves. Or when Sammy Sosa took a small American flag and ran around Wrigley field. Those moments in sports help heal us. I will not deny that. However, in times like today where we are struggling with racism in our country, it is different.
If sports were to make a return then we would need to help keep the message of the protests alive. We need to allow athletes to voice their opinions and protest themselves. Whether they protest by taking a knee like Colin Kaepernick or wearing a t-shirt that says “I can’t breathe” like Lebron James. Allowing athletes to share the message, allows us to heal. It allows the message to continue to be heard. Athletes are humans and they shouldn’t just “stick to sports” because their lives are impacted as well. Athletes have a platform that allows their voices to be heard because so many voices are being drowned out. If baseball or any sport returns, the voices of athletes deserve to be heard.
I love sports. I love baseball but I don’t want a 2020 return.
Home of the Braves: Part One
A series on how "America's Team" became the team to forget.