Upon further review, maybe Major League Baseball was better off canceling the 2020 season. If players like Amed Rosario of the New York Mets and Aroldis Chapman of the New York Yankees aren’t paying attention to games, what makes MLB executives think fans are paying attention to the sport.
Rosario and Chapman were the main actors in a drama that confirmed that the 2020 MLB season shows signs of being a farce.
COVID-19 has turned MLB upside down
Major League Baseball can’t be faulted for the coronavirus pandemic that shut it down less than a month into spring training. The NBA, NHL, and college sports were also stopped in their tracks. However, MLB executives and the players weren’t on the same page regarding the resumption of activity.
By the time they sorted out their differences, baseball was left with a 60-game season and some new rules. Doubleheaders are being played as seven-inning games, extra innings are starting with a runner on second base to help teams from burning through pitching staffs, and all 30 teams are using a designated hitter.
NASCAR and the UFC were able to get the jump on a restart over every other sport, and then the NBA and NHL jumped quickly into their playoffs. Meanwhile, baseball went through summer training camps, threw out the first pitch, and promptly watched the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals nearly destroy the season with COVID-19 outbreaks.
It’s been confusing, as Amed Rosario of the New York Mets and Aroldis Chapman of the New York Yankees demonstrated Friday.
The Mets and Yankees played an unusual doubleheader
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Last weekend’s series between the New York Yankees and New York Mets was postponed in the wake of two positive COVID-19 tests on the Mets. Games were rescheduled for this weekend, beginning Friday, Aug. 28, with a doubleheader.
The Mets won the opener at Yankee Stadium, 6-4, on the strength of a Pete Alonso three-run home run. As part of the makeup from the previous weekend, the Mets were designated as the home team in the nightcap and trailed 3-2 entering the bottom of the seventh.
With one on after a leadoff walk and none out, the Mets’ Amed Rosario homered off Yankees reliever Aroldis Chapman, kicking off a peculiar sequence that demonstrated that at least some players might be teetering between ambivalence and apathy: Neither the pitcher nor the hitter realized that the Mets had just completed a sweep of the doubleheader with a 4-3 victory.
Aroldis Chapman and Amed Rosario didn’t know it was over
New York Yankees reliever Aroldis Chapman may have been showing some rust when he surrendered a walk-off home run to Amed Rosario in the bottom of the seventh inning. It was just Chapman’s second appearance of the season and first time on the mound in 11 days.
“When I first hit the ball, to be honest, I was so focused on that at-bat that I forgot we were the home team and that was the end of the game,” Rosario told MLB.com through an interpreter. “And then as I’m rounding the bases, I see the players coming out of the dugout and I’m saying, ‘Whoa, like we just won the game right here.’ It was just exciting to be able to celebrate with them at that moment.”
The unusual circumstances making the Mets the home team at Yankee Stadium led to a bit of near-history being made. Rosario’s walk-off homer wasn’t the first in MLB history by a visiting player, but Elias Sports Bureau said it last occurred in 1899, when Ed McKean hit one for the St. Louis Perfectos at the Cleveland Spiders.
If the hitter was briefly confused, so was the pitcher.
“I think Chapman didn’t even know, really,” Mets outfielder Dominic Smith said. “I think he was asking for another ball after the pitch. It goes to show just how weird this season has been.”