Tonight, in a different universe where coronavirus isn’t shutting everything down, the Cardinals would be in Texas. They would be playing the Rangers in an exhibition game that would have been a beginning and an end.
It would have been the beginning of Globe Life Park, the new ballpark for the Rangers. With its retractable roof, finally watching Rangers games wouldn’t be an exercise in how many pounds can you sweat off in nine innings. It would have had that “new park smell”, probably some sort of glitches that they’d not thought to work out, and something approximating two Opening Day lineups on the field. While it wouldn’t have been true baseball, it would have likely been the closest thing you could get in spring training.
It also would have been the end of the practice session. The Cardinals’ calendar, written in pre-pandemic times, has the 24th and 25th as blank days as the team went from Texas to Cincinnati to be a part of perhaps the only Opening Day tradition that could rival the one in St. Louis. The final cuts would have been made soon after the game tonight, with the headliner likely being Dylan Carlson finally going to Memphis. We’d have spent a day or two going rounds about whether that was a good idea or not, but it would have been muted by the fact that Opening Day was right here. The excitement level for the season would have been as high as possible. Even Alex probably would have said on this week’s Chirps that he was acknowledging baseball season was back.
Instead, it’s another day for many folks to sit inside their homes, reading baseball books, perhaps, or watching old highlights or games from the storied history of the Cardinals. It’s a day closer to Opening Day, sure, but we don’t know when that Opening Day will be. I mean, we’re a day closer to Opening Day 2021 and 2022 as well, but that’s hardly worth noting. Given there still is no reasonable date for starting (the talk around here is that Arkansas won’t see the peak of the virus for 6-8 weeks), counting down just doesn’t have the same import as it does in the winter.
If you want to watch the Cardinals and Rangers tonight, your only option is to dig out those 2011 World Series DVDs. At least that has an ending–and a good one at that.