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And away we (finally) go?

Oakland Athletics Summer Workouts
“Opening Day starter? That’s WAY better than a trip to GNC!”
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

On March 13, I was supposed to be flying down to spring training in anticipating of Opening Day two weeks later. Instead, the previous day spring training was canceled, that day turned out to be my last day of in-person work at my school, and the fight of a pennant race gave way to fights about who got to keep which $1M bills.

Four months later and change, I write to you today on the heels of an A’s-Giants exhibition game scheduled to be played Monday night at the Oakland Coliseum and broadcast to living rooms like mine.

A few initial thoughts about the season-to-finally-begin (whether it will continue is a “whole other matter”):

- Baseball is sometimes described as “that most unpredictable game.” Case in point: did you have the Orioles and Yankees with the same record on July 18?

- If we’re going for realism, the cardboard cutouts in the stands should be spaced six feet apart and half of them should be staring at their phones.

- It used to be that if a pitcher went to his mouth while on the rubber, it was a ball. Now I believe it’s a misdemeanor.

- If Rob Manfred is intent on speeding up ‘pace of play’ then why is the first game taking three months and 27 days to complete? That seems slow to me.

- I belong to what I suspect is a rather large percentage of fans: those who concluded “Play or don’t, I don’t care anymore” and are now squealing “Baseball! Eeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!” like a school girl. Hey, there are worse addictions to suffer from which. (I was told never to end a sentence with a preposition. Of course I was also told never to write rambling and pointless articles, so whatever.)

Right now, stadium operations and broadcast production teams are huddling around how to create the “sounds of the game” without creeping everyone out. Imagine if they piped in some good natured heckling and a player instinctively found himself firing back at a cardboard cutout.

This is a time to be creative and resourceful, and no one is more open to thinking outside the box than our own Dave Kaval. With that in mind, I want to offer my two cents on how the A’s could authentically recreate the true ballpark atmosphere without compromising safety.

Why not offer each member of the famous right field drumming team the chance to join a Zoom meeting for the duration of each home game, and put the Zoom meeting up on the big scoreboard complete with sight and sound.

Now you have the right field drummers seen from their homes, and heard throughout the stadium, creating whatever sound they actually create — which would be their own sound in isolation but collectively the exact full drumming experience.

This is not unprecedented, as full symphonies have taken to Zoom during the pandemic to play “alone together.” A low canned hum of a crowd, as heard behind games in South Korea, is fine if it is augmented by something real, live, and unique to that stadium. The A’s have a chance to create exactly that.

If you wanted to get really ambitious, you could offer season ticket holders access to another meeting where their actual sights/sounds/reactions could be shared as they watch the game on TV. Get 100 or so together and you would have some ‘real time crowd response’ to add to the generic hum — which is all you can reasonably expect from a group of cardboard cutouts. Kara could even interview them between innings for at least the players and coaches to enjoy learning about their most ardent fans.

I would love to hear your best ideas in the comments. And I’d also like to hear some good ones!

So many possibilities once you forget about taking the 2020 “season” too seriously and just insist on finally having some fun during a pandemic that has been anything but. I am hoping MLB gets one thing right and crowns the World Series “winner” with a special 2020 crown whose spikes look like the corona virus. (If you didn’t know, “corona” stands for the crown-like spikes this virus displays.) And no champagne celebrations, either: strictly Corona Light.


Play ball, finally!