How uncertain can “uncertain times” possibly be? Can they be so uncertain that fans may not want their team to win?
Jayson Stark of The Athletic raised a good point last Friday, asking how legitimate a Cleveland World Series win would feel, even to fans of the team.
Nothing about the 2020 season will be normal if it happens at all. That would make a team breaking their 72-year curse, the longest drought in baseball, more expected. But how would a championship in a shortened season with no fans feel?
Would it feel as empty as the stands at Progressive Field, or Chase Field, wherever it may be played?
By the time an actual World Series was played, there may be more of an opportunity for baseball fans to gather at bars and other establishments, but that opportunity may not be there for everyone. Immunocompromised fans would still be stuck at home, and no one could blame any other fan for staying put either.
Imagine how a walk-off home run in Game 7 would feel in a bar full of strangers at 25-to-50 percent capacity, 6 feet apart from one another.
Again, this hypothetical takes liberties with how those in these gathering places would behave, and what the rules would be therein. It is simply to highlight that things would be… odd.
Of course, how could you nitpick a championship win while staring down the inevitability of the most valuable player in franchise history walking in free agency?
The shortened season could be Cleveland’s last with Francisco Lindor, and no matter the potential return on a pre-2021 trade, that stands to diminish the Indians’ championship hopes in the immediate aftermath.
The second question is, would this scenario be worth it?
Terry Francona says yes. The Cleveland manager told Stark, “I don’t (care) where we play or when we play or who we play. That just means we’ve been better than every team we played.”
That seems obvious, and it is true. No fan would root against their team making a deep post-season run, and no manager would admit to not wanting to win based on circumstance.
162 games are not a necessity in deciding who wins the World Series. The World Series probably never even crowns the best team. Just ask the Los Angeles Dodgers of the past three seasons or the 2001 Seattle Mariners.
The idea of only playing a shortened schedule is not the issue. A championship would feel good no matter what, but not ideal.
Do you remember how you felt when the Cavaliers won the 2016 NBA championship? Even if you are 10-times the baseball fan that you are a basketball fan, there was still so much that made it incredible.
Cleveland’s curse was broken by a kid from Akron, “against all odds,” down 3-1 in a series against perhaps the best team of all-time. This is now the standard for a Cleveland championship.
Now compare that to winning in a silent stadium, while not being able to congregate with some of those dear to you, and then forever having an actual asterisk in the record books.
Is that how you would want this streak to be broken?
Call me uncertain.