I didn't think the first time I would be at Guaranteed Rate field in 2020 would be during a global pandemic, but 2020 has been a weird year.
Day 2 of Summer Camp was the first Chicago White Sox event I've ever covered, and it was especially unique entering through a medical tent with various health checks along the way. But again, if there is going to be baseball, let alone any return to "normalcy" in the age of COVID-19, this is how things are going to have to be, at a minimum.
As I watched the masked grounds crew prep the field for the second day of Summer Camp, I wondered if baseball should be happening at all. With sports beginning to make their attempts at trickling back into society, I had an uneasy feeling that this might not be the best idea.
All of that being said, it is happening, and however relatively dystopian it all may feel at times, the White Sox are going to give it their best shot to make it work.
There was the normalcy of seeing players going through stretches and light sprinting, combined with the new, (and responsible!) sight of players long tossing while wearing masks.
That's when it occurred to me that this combination of normal, and anything but, is how this is all going to *maybe* work. MLB and the MLBPA did agree to a 67-page health and safety protocol, so there will be a lot of the "anything but" this season.
And then, just as my mind started to wander thinking about how different everything was and will be under pandemic circumstances, I watched Tim Anderson make an errant throw to first base on a practice grounder — all of a sudden, White Sox baseball was BACK!
To be fair, it is only day two of practice, and I know Tim has been working a lot on his defense, but it was nice to see something familiar, all things considered.
Watching a practice, I can't offer too much analysis about individual players, and I haven't been doing this long enough to tell you if any of these guys were in the "best shape of their life," but what I can say is that it looked, from a distance, like just about every player was excited to be back.
Without having direct player access due to the social distancing guidelines, I had to work off of overhearing what players were saying during batting practice. So the line of the day goes to Dylan Cease when he said:
"I'm just being right now, I'm not thinking."
Will that be the motto of the 2020 Chicago White Sox? An out-of-context, overheard remark from Cease? No, probably not. But maybe it should be.
When they run onto the field in a fan-less stadium, with AC/DC's Thunderstruck blaring — or, perhaps, turned down just a bit, from 11 to 10 — perhaps Gene Honda will be there to say:
"YOUR 2020 CHICAGO WHITE SOX. DON'T THINK, JUST BE"