Good morning, frents …
Worst. Opening. Day. ever.
We’re going to get through it, though …
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No baseball? No problem
I’m not going to beat around the bush here.
Today was supposed to be Opening Day. The Sox were supposed to be hosting the Royals. The Cubs were supposed to playing the Brewers up in Milwaukee. It’s the first season in seemingly forever where both sides of town were looking forward to that first pitch of the year.
But as the old saying goes, “man plans, God laughs.” We’re instead battling the horrors of coronavirus and hoping everything can return to a new normal that could somehow include a World Series game on Christmas (if Scott Boras has his way, at least).
Look, if the year 2020 was a baseball game, it’d be the one where our ace blows out his elbow in the first inning without recording a single out. We’re now depending a journeyman pitcher called up from Triple-A just last week to somehow see us to a bullpen we don’t really trust either.
And yet it’s the hand we’ve been dealt. This isn’t RBI Baseball where you go down 10 runs and they play the slaughter rule music and then the game is over. We still have to play it the best way knew how.
Which brings me to my 10-step plan to enjoy this Opening Day without baseball.
There will come a point today when you get a bit down and depressed that there is no baseball and won’t be for a long while. (I know this because I went through it for a bit before coming around to write this newsletter.)
When you do get there — and you will — follow these 10 steps to try and get back on track ...
1. Call in sick to work
This might be tough since you’re already at home and you don’t want your boss to get too worried about you. But a tradition is a tradition. Pick up the phone. Or text. Or send a DM on Instagram. However people call in these days. (I haven’t had a boss or a real job for a few months.)
2. Crack a beer
You’re probably already doing this multiple times a day during self-quarantine as your significant other gives you the side-eye. Today, though, you have an excuse. 🍻
3. Hot dogs for dinner, hot dogs for lunch
But only if you stocked up on those Vienna Beefs, which are apparently in high demand these days.
4. Watch a baseball game
There isn’t any live baseball, but MLB.com is trying to fill the void by streaming one great game for each of the 30 teams. White Sox fans get Mark Buehrle’s perfect game at 3 pm CT*, the Cubs get Game 7 of the 2016 World Series at 5:05. Also check out MLB’s best Opening Day moment for each team. (Not sure about that Cubs pick, tbh).
*If you want to go the radio route, 670 The Score is replaying the entirety of Buehrle’s perfect game starting at 6 pm.
5. Break out the eye-black
Has anyone ever put on eye-black and not felt immediately better about themselves? Don’t even bother looking in the mirror because this 👇 is how good you will look.
6. Watch a baseball movie
Your mileage may vary, but here’s my top five:
5. The Sandlot: Legends never die.
4. A League Of Their Own: A classic in every which way. The minute my girls can sit through anything that isn’t a cartoon, this movie is going into heavy rotation.
3. Major League: Jobu, Wild Thing and Willie Mays Hayes … plus Ueck in the role he was born to play. The best thing the Indians ever gave baseball.
2. Field of Dreams: There are two types of people in this world: People who like Field of Dreams and horrible, no-good pessimists. (I’ll give you that the first 45 or so are super hokey, but once James Earl Jones and Burt Lancaster come on the screen and Ray asks his dad to have a catch … well, all bets are off. )
1. Bad News Bears: The Sandlot meets Major League. Still a perfect comedy that teaches three important lessons about baseball and life: You don’t always win, adults take the fun out of everything and the Yankees are always the bad guys.
7. Do a fantasy draft
You might end up visiting the page of your drafted team 3,000 times before you see any stats land on it, but a draft will still bring order to your day and take your mind off the outside world for an hour or two. There are worse ways to kill time.
8. Challenge your family to a batting stance impersonation contest
I call Julio Franco.
9. Sing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” on your porch
Know all those videos of Italians singing on their balconies. Text a few neighbors, fire up your iPhone camera and get footage of everyone doing their best Harry Caray. (“Let’s … get … some … TP!”)
10. Hold a sunflower-seed spitting contest
Actually that’s a terrible idea right now. So is a game of catch or even pepper, even though both promote social distancing. Some things might just have to wait until we get a real Opening Day to celebrate. We all should be staying home anyways.
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Mets at Cubs, 4/4/1994 “The Tuffy Rhodes Game” (10:30, MLB Network)
Canucks at Blackhawks, Game 2, 2010 Western Conference semis (7 pm, NBCSCH)
Cubs at Indians, 2016 World Series Game 2 (7 pm, Marquee)
What else could #TBT be today?
True story: I struck out on tickets to this game and settled for the next day’s loss against the Mets. All I remember is that it was about 80 degrees colder than it was on Opening Day and we spent the entire game in the left field bleachers yelling at Joe Orsulak for trying to warm up his hand by sticking it in his back pocket.
No, you can’t beat fun at the old ballpark, gang.
The Bears are bringing back Tyler Bray to be the team’s third quarterback, a move that might throw a wrench into any hopes they’ll draft a QB project. The team also signed OL Germain Ifedi to a one-year deal. A first-round pick by Seattle in 2016, he hasn’t played up to expectations and had his fifth-year option declined by the Seahawks. He’ll only be 26 in June so there’s still plenty of time, but he definitely falls under the category of “project.”
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• Rick Morisssey says it’s OK for Sox fans to wonder if a potentially great season will be lost. (Sun-Times)
• Rob Manfred, however, went on Scott Van Pelt Wednesday night and said he hopes baseball will be back in May. (ESPN)
• Kelly Crull is supposed to be in Atlanta preparing for Opening Day with the Braves. But coronavirus has delayed those plans just a bit. (The Athletic)
• One more Opening Day activity: This cool crossword the White Sox posted on Wednesday. (White Sox)
• Illinois basketball lost another sophomore to the transfer portal. (Herald & Review)
• Michael Rosenberg wrote the best coronavirus-related sports column I’ve read yet. (Sports Illustrated)
• This is really cool: Jacob Pomrenke and Christopher Kamka recorded an Eight Men Out commentary that you can play along with the movie. Both of these guys know more about Chicago baseball history that just about anyone. Definitely want to find time to watch the movie this way. (Jacob Pomrenke)
• Chicago: This is how you honor our hard-working medical workers.
And this is how you don’t.
That’s it for today. And I think that’s it for the week, save for any big Chicago sports news that might break today. Stay safe out there, enjoy this bizarro Opening Day and thank you for being a #frentofthenewsletter.
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