Good morning, frents …
It’s been a busy few weeks around here. The story on the fight over Sammy Sosa’s 62nd attracted a lot of new subscribers, as did Wednesday’s piece on the Arlington Heights Bears. It’s a great feeling to know you dig what’s been going on here.
To the new faces around here: Welcome! I’m really super you’re here. If you like what you read in the days ahead, make sure you tell a frent.
To those of you who have been around a bit: Thank you! It means a lot that you open Midway Minute every day and help spread the word.
To everyone: Have a great weekend. We all deserve a break.
Well, except for Crane Kenney. He needs to make sure that Comcast deal gets done.
Are we really ready for fans in the stands this season?
Things sure moved quickly in baseball this week, didn’t they?
- Monday afternoon: Everyone was feeling down, certain baseball was in tatters and that the two sides would never get their act together for a 2020 season.
- Tuesday night: An agreement on a 60-game season, a tentative starting date and a comprehensive COVID-19 protection guide that banned everything from chewing sunflower seeds to high fives after home runs.
- Thursday morning: Cubs exec Crane Kenney went on a radio tour to talk about putting fans on the Wrigley rooftops and in the stands this summer and fall.
Talking about a plan for 8,000 people watching baseball? Two days after the league said mascots wouldn’t be allowed on the field to help limit the spread?
Kris Bryant was hitting a home run in Game 5 of the World Series the last time something turned this quickly at Wrigley Field.
The Score’s Danny Parkins tweeted on Wednesday that the White Sox were operating under similar expectations. But Sox GM Rick Hahn told beat reporters on Thursday that the team is expecting to open the season without fans in the stands.
“We are trusting the experts. We are trusting science. We are trusting data and following the lead of experts in the public health arenas.”
Whatever the case, both clubs are obviously encouraged by Governor J.B. Pritzker’s Phase 4 declaration that would allow 20 percent capacity at spectator sporting events, even if Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city isn’t ready to go that far just yet.
“Fundamentally, whether it’s 8,000 or 800 or 80, there’s got to be a plan for safety. And we’re happy to engage in a discussion with all the sports teams. There’s no bigger sports fan than me and I want to be able to enjoy live sports in the stands myself. But we’ve got to do it at a time when we know that’s appropriate under the public health guidance. And we’re not there yet."
Kenney said the team’s rooftops, which are all located at individual addresses, could be opened under the current permissions on opening day. If and when Lightfoot eases the restrictions on Wrigley’s turnstiles, all fans would be required to wear masks and follow other safety protocols upon entering the park.
“We would not do this, even if the governor allowed it, if we thought it would be unsafe,” Kenney said on 670.
It’s not surprising the clubs are pursuing a plan that would refill their coffers.
It is somewhat aggravating that opportunity might arrive so quickly after we just sat through two months of the owners rapping an empty tin cup at the negotiating table.
Then there’s the question of whether they should be weighing this idea at all, particularly in light of the rising COVID-19 numbers across the country.
I won’t sit here and pretend to have a degree in epidemiology. Lord knows there are plenty of other people on the Internet who will if you’re looking for that.
(I’m going to go ahead and presume you are not.)
But I will say this: Opening our ballparks to thousands is a much bigger decision than whether or not I can go drink a beer at a local brewery socially distanced from just a handful of others. It’s a decision that will not only be tackled here, but in every other city where they plan on playing baseball and football in the months ahead.
That each outlet takes their time to make the best decision with the public’s health and safety first in mind shouldn’t be too much to ask.
Have a link to share on Midway Minute? Email me!
• Scott Powers did a deep dive on the Blackhawks logo and whether it’s time for the team to drop it. My thoughts on the matter are another newsletter for another day, but you should read Scott’s piece. The level of reporting is impressive and you’ll learn some things about the logo’s origins that I didn’t know before. (The Athletic)
• Vancouver withdrew its name as a NHL hub city over public health concerns. Chicago remains one of five candidates for two spots. (CBC Sports)
• Nazareth QB and Michigan commit JJ McCarthy is heading to Florida’s IMG Academy for his senior season. He doesn’t want to deal with coronavirus concerns up here and apparently must not be reading the news out of Florida much these days. I’d be more empathetic, but he is heading to Michigan. Anyway, shoutout to my old Driscoll Catholic teacher, Tim Racki. (Tribune)
Thank you for being a #frentofthenewsletter. Go have yourselves a weekend.