In 30 years the lawn of Cleveland Indians radio broadcaster Jim Rosenhaus has never looked better.
While that might be something to strive for if you are a proud landscaper, for Rosenhaus, it means that there’s been a lack of baseball to call with the combination of the covid-19 pandemic as well as now an ugly labor dispute.
Rosenhaus is part of the popular radio booth along with Tom Hamilton, a pair that Indians fans love to listen to each and every summer as they enjoy sunny skies and warm weather.
Now though life has taken a drastic change with the pandemic that shut down baseball with about a week and a half remaining before the Indians and the rest of the league were supposed to start games.
It’s now three months later, and just like everyone else that is involved with America’s pastime, it’s a sit and wait game while the players and owners try to figure out what type of a short season the league is going to have in 2020.
Rosenhaus, who lives with his wife and two boys in Bay Village, recalls what it was like March 12th when Major League Baseball decided to officially shutdown spring training in both Arizona and Florida.
“I think it really changed that Wednesday night when (Rudy) Gobert of the (Utah) Jazz was diagnosed with the virus, and then once the NBA shut down I think we all knew that we were done, or were going to be pretty soon after that,” Rosenhaus recalls.
The following day, MLB was put on hold, and a pitch has not been thrown since in a ballpark across the country.
“We played on Monday (March 9), then we had our only off day on Tuesday (March 10), and we were rained out on Wednesday (March 11) and then an early rain out on Thursday (March 12).
“It was the weirdest thing because it never rains in Arizona, and it was just strange to have an off day and two rain outs.
“That Thursday morning they rained out the game and you knew the NBA was shut down, and with the time change we were watching a lot of college hoops, and all the college tournaments that were supposed to start, but then they got shut down, and it really didn’t become official for us till about lunch time,” Rosenhaus said.
The Indians were about 10 days away from breaking camp, which means by that point in camp Rosenhaus had learned quite a bit about what was going to be the 2020 club.
Spring training for the veteran broadcaster is a lot about homework for the season, and about learning about new players the club may have on the roster and making sure that once opening day comes around all the hard work was ready to pay off.
“It’s somewhat different, the game are somewhat different, there’s so many different players, the regulars play only about half the game, and you are going to a different park every day, so it’s not like you’re staying in a ballpark for three days,” Rosenhaus said about spring training.
“It’s more prep work for the season ahead, just different projects that you might be working on, you can get that done in the morning, it’s actually kind of a nice time of the year and a nice time to build a base.”
Even after Rosenhaus departed back to Ohio two days after baseball was put on hold, he has spent time keeping up with the league and doing more prep work on other aspects of the game.
“We were about 10 days from breaking camp, so I was really far along on my prep work that I do during spring training,” Rosenhaus said
“I’ve taken a look a little more at the National League Central as they’ve been talking a lot about that with the AL Central, they were not on the original schedule this year. Just trying to keep tabs here and there, it’s been a time where you’ve had a lot more time to read and do more of that stuff.”
Last week was not a good one for Major League Baseball, as finally on Saturday the players rejected the latest proposal from the owners, stating they would no longer go to the negotiating table and to just let players know where and when to report for the short season owners seem to want.
“I think we are going to play, at some point, maybe it won’t be an ideal scenario, but I haven’t really thought about not having a season,” Rosenhaus said.
The longtime broadcaster says that the Indians have been excellent about communicating what is going on and developments that could get the game back on the field.
There are meetings every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and if something big does transpire, they get a call or some type of communication about it.
Rosenhaus said he knows that the league will make every effort to keep those that are going to be at the ballpark for games (players, media, broadcasters, security, etc.) safe, and that contract with the team itself will be minimal to try and avoid outsiders being able to spread the covid-19 disease.
“I think maybe in the back of your mind you think about it a little bit, but because it’s baseball and it’s outside and the windows are open and all that stuff, and there will be serious precautions taken because of distancing, I’m not too worried about it, I probably won’t have a lot of contact with the players,” Rosenhaus said.
Last week was the first time since before leaving for Goodyear, Arizona and spring training that Rosenhaus got a chance to be at the offices at Progressive Field.
While there is bad blood between the players union and owners, a broadcaster like Rosenhaus is doing all that he can to stay on top of the game and make sure that he is ready when called upon whenever a 2020 season may happen.
As far as the Indians on the field, Rosenhaus said that he liked what he saw from Terry Francona’s bunch, with a veteran infield that will be asked to lead the team with players like Carlos Santana, Francisco Lindor, newcomer Cesar Hernandez and Jose Ramirez.
“I think a veteran team like the Indians, when spring training shut down I think they felt good about what they had going into the season. How do they get that back, that will be the key,” Rosenhaus said.
“Your key guys offensively looked like they were locked in and ready to go, and the starting rotation is back intact and looking good.”
For now Rosenhaus has had a great time spending days with his wife and two boys, enjoying whatever is open and making sure that lawn is in great shape.
“It has been really different, I’m at a point in my life I have two kids, one is 17 one is 8, both boys, and that time with them and my wife has been a lot of fun, but I hate that it’s at the expense of a baseball season and the reason why,” Rosenhaus said.