ST. LOUIS — A couple of months ago, when plans for sports' return got serious, I commented that it wouldn't feel real to me whoever won the title this year.
Whether or not that was COVID-induced or not, that thought process dominated even my early coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals' return to the field. The Blues' return felt a little more real, because they played the majority of a regular season, something baseball lost in June. But still, the hockey season had a chance of landing differently.
I've since dropped that idea, deleting it from my brain. At this point, 2020 has already turned its back on logistics. The need to play all 60 games for the Cardinals shouldn't affect their playoff chances or how it looks to others. If Rob Manfred and company couldn't think of a fallback plan once a team lost too much of its schedule to positive COVID tests, why should the team pay for it in legacy?
While the amount of games will be shorter in Major League Baseball, certain things will be the same. A bunch of teams qualify for the postseasons, and the best team at the time usually ends up winning it. That's it. Same for the NHL and every other league. Words like "fair" and "deserve" have nothing to do with the results this year. That was called off weeks ago, before the Cardinals lost two weeks from their schedule.
Here's the truth. If the Cardinals win a majority of their remaining games and make it into the playoffs, there shouldn't be a whisper of complaints about it. As my much wiser baseball writing friend, Brian Walton, would say: Just win more games!
The Cardinals could pull off a few bold moves and win it all. What if they suddenly promoted Dylan Carlson and played him every day? I wrote about shutting him down for the season last week, but that mindset changes instantly if the team was planning to start him frequently. They could steal this season, which seems to be anyone's game. Well, everyone except for the Houston Astros.
The Blues could make a surge towards the Stanley Cup Final for a second straight year. They have a healthy roster that isn't firing on every cylinder just yet, but could quickly get there Wednesday night against Vancouver. If they hoisted the Cup again, not one soul should believe it's not worthy. If they made the effort to get to the arena and followed the rules, they get to treat 2020 like any other end result. It's one of the few positives that could come out of such a tragic and challenging year.
It's not "where were you when," but more like "how did you get up and come back from 2020?" In the world of sports, nothing should change.
While this has carried the feel of a unplugged rant, the objective here is learning to accept what this year is giving you. While the Cardinals' season at the moment doesn't carry much hope, that could change. The Blues can still lift the spirits of struggling St. Louis sports fans with more wins.
Winning never gets old and always makes you feel good. That's the undefeated reputation of sports and how they make you feel. The satisfaction from seeing your team win never wavers, not even this year. It didn't during the Great Depression. When World War II and Vietnam dug into the subconscious of every living soul attached to the war, sports brought them back.
When the planes hit the towers in New York, Mike Piazza's swing helped quickly bring the illustrious feel of a win back to people's hearts, and not just in New York. When the bombs went off in Boston, everybody became a Red Sox fan for a period time.
No matter what happens, sports always seems to bring that good feeling back. If that's true, the games should count and feel the same in 5-50 years. At least we can try to make that possible.
I've let my guard down. While there were and still are good reasons to call off the MLB season, there are quite a few to see it to the end of the line. No matter what seems to happen, the powers that be in baseball want to see this season to the end. They've tossed aside game amounts and will lean on winning percentage. Seems right. The team who wins the majority of their games makes it into the final dance. I just think we need to get with it. All of us.
If history has shown us anything, it's that sports can bring all kinds of people together, at least in spirit. And if you really need another reason, remember a lot of jobs and livelihood depend on sports taking place. People need those jobs to pay bills and keep their roof in one place.
It all connects in the end. Sports. Winning. The People.
Let's let 2020 ride off across the finish line. What do you say?