Let’s assume–which, again, feels fair but also feels like it could be completely crazy–that the season happens this year. Can you imagine Official Prospect of the Blog Dylan Carlson having a conversation decades from now with his grandchildren?
“Grandpa, tell us about your major league debut. Were all the fans excited to see you play?”
“Well, actually, there weren’t any fans there. Just the two teams, the Cardinals and the Twins.”
“The Twins? Wow, what were the chances you’d debut in an interleague game. Too bad it wasn’t someone like the Dodgers.”
“We didn’t play the Dodgers in 2020.”
“You mean you just missed those games, right?”
“No, the two teams didn’t play.”
“Did you get to face the Nationals that year? I read they won the World Series the year before you started.”
“No, we didn’t play them either. Saw a lot of the Royals and White Sox though.”
“So you didn’t play National League teams but saw a lot of American League ones? And what did you mean, no fans? The Cardinals have always drawn well. Or were you on the road? That would make some more sense, I guess.”
“I mean no fans. Attendance of zero. Total of probably less than 100 people in the entire stadium, counting players and media.”
“Ummm, OK. Do you have the ball from your first home run? How much did you have to pay to get that back?”
“Nothing. One of the relievers that was sitting in the stands walked over and got it for me. I paid for his dinner to be delivered that night, though.”
“You didn’t go out with the guys to celebrate?”
“No, we did what we always did. We took the bus back to the hotel and shut ourselves in the rooms.”
“Uh huh. Umm, Grandma, I think Grandpa needs to see a doctor about his memory!”
If they play, so many of those “first” milestones will rattle around an empty stadium. No cheering, no excitement, just the first hit, the first homer, the first RBI. I was watching the latest FOX Sports Midwest countdown/alternate programming special and they replayed Albert Pujols‘s first hit and first homer. Can you imagine 20 years from now seeing those highlights for someone like Carlson (or any other player that makes a debut this year) and seeing all those empty seats as backdrop? It’s not exactly the way you dream about it when you are coming through the minor leagues.
If they don’t play, Carlson like so many others is in that state of limbo. Obviously he would have made his debut, so he winds up losing a year of MLB time that he would have had. Since he didn’t, though, I don’t think he falls under the agreement the players and owners had on service time. That pushes his free agency back another year, though who knows how all of that will change since the CBA will expire before he’d reach that point anyway. Still, it’s a year less for stats, for getting better.
Last September, some of us pushed to get Carlson on the 40-man for a September call-up. While the reasons that the club didn’t made plenty of sense and it was always a longshot, in hindsight it would have been a lot better for the young man. Hopefully the craziness that will affect the start of his career won’t be a reason the overall picture isn’t what folks expected.