If you’re like me, there’s a good chance that you’ve been in the fetal position since MLB and MiLB announced the postponing of the starts of their seasons due to the COVID-19 virus. Today, what should be Opening Day, is as good a day as any to crawl out of this position and talk about what we’re going to do in the weeks and months (gulp) until we finally get the good news that baseball is coming back.
Of course, my principal thoughts are with the people here and abroad who are battling this virus, those who are working hard to contain it and those who have been affected by it in any number of ways — including countless individuals in the baseball world. While I understand that there are bigger issues afoot in the world right now, no baseball for the foreseeable future is a major bummer. Like many of you, the postponing of the start of the season has dramatically altered my 2020 travel plans. I had 16 games booked through the end of May that won’t be happening, and I know a lot of you have affected plans, too.
That said, I’m trying to be as positive as possible during this bizarre period of isolation and no baseball — and I thought I’d share some ideas with you, too. Here are seven ways that you can beat the no-baseball blues.
1. Watch Old Games
One thing that I love doing throughout the off-season — and that I’ll be steadily doing from now until whenever baseball returns — is watch old games. If you’ve got MLB.tv, you can easily access the site’s archive of games and enjoy them. Don’t have a subscription? You’d be amazed at how many full games you can find for free on YouTube. The MLB and MLB Vault channels are pledging to show plenty of full games for the foreseeable future, but a lot of other channels upload full games, too. Type the name of any team with the term “full game,” and you’ll get countless results. I love throwing a game onto the TV in the background and keeping an eye on it while I work, whether it’s a regular season game, a Spring Training game or a postseason game. I’ve even watched a little NCAA action here and there. I particularly enjoy watching games from ballparks I’ve enjoyed visiting, as doing so brings back countless good memories. (Currently watching the Twins at the Brewers from Miller Park last August, for the record.) And we can all benefit from good baseball memories at a time like this.
2. Read Baseball Books
I’m constantly buying new baseball books to add to my collection, but I tend to buy them faster than I can read. This means that I’ve got a surplus of books that are in need of some attention, so I hope to catch up on some reading in the coming weeks and months. If you’re in a similar situation, you might enjoy digging into your collection, too. Of course, now is also a good time to buy some baseball books online and have them show up at your doorstep. Here are some titles that I’ve recently bought but haven’t yet read:
Where No One Knows Your Name: Life in the Minor Leagues of Baseball (John Feinstein)
Hello, Friends! Stories From My Life & Blue Jays Baseball (Jerry Howarth)
The Last Best League: One Summer, One Season, One Dream (Jim Collins)
Bottom of the 33rd (Dan Barry)
The Only Rule Is It Has To Work: Our Wild Experiment Building a New Kind of Baseball Team (Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller)
The Last Natural (Rob Miech)
3. Connect With Teams
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been thoroughly impressed with teams’ response to this difficult situation. Virtually every team I follow on social media has gone out of its way to provide new, daily content for fans. A lot of MLB and MiLB are providing baseball-themed coloring pages for people to print off for their kids, some teams are giving virtual tours of their ballparks and others are just doing a lot more fan interaction. Now is a perfect time to connect with some teams on social media. You’ll often find cool opportunities, including those during teams’ #WallpaperWednesday promotions. Yesterday, I got custom mobile device backgrounds from the Fort Wayne TinCaps, Las Vegas Aviators, Nashville Sounds and Quad Cities River Bandits, each of which served as a fun boost throughout the day.
4. Connect With Players
You’ll find that a lot of players are going out of their way to interact with fans on social media, too. One interaction that has become increasingly popular during this time of isolation is virtual autographs. A lot of players are announcing virtual signing sessions in which you submit a photo and get it back a short while later with a virtual autograph. Last week, Detroit Tigers pitcher Joe Jiménez signed for a bunch of fans, and I was able to get this picture — one that I took at Comerica Park in 2011 — signed. If you’re an autograph lover or you’re simply interested in having an exchange with a player, this is an easy and fun idea.
5. Dine On Some Ballpark Fare
Whether you’re watching an old game online or you’re sitting out on the deck to enjoy some sun after a long winter, why not dig into some ballpark fare? Fire up the grill and throw some hot dogs or brats on it, and then load up a bun with your favorite toppings. Make a batch of popcorn, buy some Cracker Jack on Amazon or broil some nachos. If you’ve collected some souvenir cups over the years, fill one with your favorite beverage and enjoy.
6. Open Some Baseball Cards
I bought a box of 2018 Topps Heritage Minor League Baseball cards more than a year ago and haven’t yet opened it. I’ve been saving it for a rainy day, but I think we can safely say that that rainy day is now here. I’m looking forward to digging into the box and seeing what prospects I can pull. My buddy Craig the Midwest League Traveler told me that he’s buying boxes online and will open a pack whenever he needs a baseball fix — which is another home run of an idea. If you’d rather not buy any new cards, now is a good time to dust off your old boxes and binders and browse through your collection.
7. Read My Blog
OK, so this one’s a bit self-promotional, but I’ve got to throw it out there. If you’re thinking about baseball road trips, why not read about mine? I’ve written first-hand accounts of nearly 200 different games at nearly 80 ballparks dating back to 2010. See that search bar on the upper right corner of this page? Type the name of any MLB or MiLB team into it and if I’ve seen that team in action, there’ll be a blog post about it. Failing that, you can also scroll down to the “Archives” menu on the right side and click any month of any year to see whatever I wrote at that time. I hope that reading about some of my adventures will help you to pass the time until you can create your own. (And you can rest assured that when we get baseball back, I’m going to be doing a lot of traveling and can’t wait to share those adventures with all of you.)
I hope some of these points are helpful. If you’ve got other ideas, feel free to post them below or tweet them at me.
Here’s hoping that we’ll all be back at the ballpark before long.