Obviously, a return to game action was quite welcome
Matt’s Bleacher Shots
As some of you I conversed with on Sunday figured, and those who probably just saw me hanging around the fences could guess, it obviously felt good to be out covering a couple of honest to God baseball games again.
Can a couple of Dairyland League games compare to where things left off for me in March in the heat of boys basketball’s WIAA sectional week? Of course not in terms of intensity and what’s at stake.
But you wouldn’t be wrong to say Sunday afternoon’s Merrill/Whittlesey game was one of most anticipated contests I’ve ever done. It was outdoors, miles away from my office desk, the sun was out and it was an actual competition with a winner, a loser and close to a couple hundred interested observers. I know I wasn’t the only one more than ready to rediscover what one of those actually looks and sounds like.
Timing and proximity even made it possible to catch two games by taking a short evening trip to Marshfield for the Medford/Marshfield matchup, which was also pretty well attended at Jack Hackman Field, one of the area’s nicer places to see a ball game. What a day!
At the risk of repeating myself, which is easy to do when there’s so little sports to talk about in a pandemic, the games are where the enjoyment for this profession is felt. Watching the twists and turns of a game and actually being able to see and talk to familiar faces while doing it is fun. The relationship between myself and the office chair, desk and computer screen has gotten to be too close for comfort in the last three-plus months. It’s not Major League Baseball owners vs. players union bad, but we’re reaching the point where we need some separation.
If all continues as planned, there will be some life on the local sports front yet this summer. Whittlesey and Medford are pressing on as two of seven teams playing Dairyland League baseball. The Whittlesey Lions are trying to provide some youth baseball and softball to the kids of Taylor County. There’s going to be high school-aged baseball and softball played. As a softball parent, I’m now penciling potential weekend tournaments into the calendar, which I didn’t expect to be doing a month ago.
Medford’s baseball group aims to start its summer schedule Friday with a 5 p.m. doubleheader against Edgar on the city diamond at Jaycee Field.
Some of those popular weekend slowpitch softball tournaments are still going to happen or have already happened. Weekly junior golf lessons are back on the agenda at Medford’s courses, which have been open since late April.
Plans at Medford Area Senior High are to hit the ground running in July with the opening of the fitness center and open gym/contact days for sports like basketball and volleyball. The Medford volleyball program announced Wednesday it’s lauching a five-week Monday night summer “quads” league. Football camp is still on the docket in late July.
On the high school level, we may learn more about where the WIAA stands when the Board of Control meets June 24.
On a national scale, college athletes are returning to their respective campuses for summer workouts in smallgroup and highly-sanitized settings.
Seeing things slowly get back into gear is encouraging. If you live on the optimistic side of life, you can talk yourself into seeing this as a precursor to fall sports returning as scheduled.
At the same time, you understand the elephant in the room hasn’t gone away. The coronavirus is out there and still not easy to detect before it’s too late for some people. Obviously, it is of great interest to see where this goes in the next month or two. Headlines indicate it’s not going well in some U.S. locales. Getting going again feels really fragile, doesn’t it?
We also know human beings want to be human and do what they do. Soft guidelines aren’t likely to hold the majority back anymore. Everyone by now understands the risks, knows what social distancing means, knows to wash their hands frequently and protect their nose and mouth and knows they shouldn’t leave home when not feeling 100%. Following those all-too-familiar principles while we’re doing what we do can keep moving this thing forward –– we hope. *** Finishing up this week with a couple of random thoughts.
First, can Major League Baseball please bring back Bud Selig as commissioner, at least for a week?
Sure, Selig was in charge during the disastrous players strike of 1994-95, but notice how there were no more such stoppages in his tenure. If nothing else, Selig learned after 1995 how to get those of differing opinions to at least get to a table, talk and compromise.
MLB owners are looking more and more like the bad guys this week in their current dispute with the players union that is preventing the league from making strides toward having some type of 2020 season.
It’s never good when you ask the other side to sign a waiver to stop it from grieving a flawed agreement from three months ago. Current commissioner Rob Manfred didn’t sound like much of a leader Monday when he sheepishly changed his tune from five days earlier when he said he was 100% confident there’d be baseball this year, hours after the players union made a bold statement asking when and where they should report.
If you want to see baseball this summer, check your local diamonds first. *** Medford Area Senior High is advertising for a new girls head soccer coach following the resignation of Chris Reardon, who stepped down from the position having been beaten by only one opponent –– COVID-19.
Reardon, who came into the position with some pretty strong credentials, has the rare distinction of having one year of service yet a 0-0 coaching record after having lost the spring season due to the pandemic.
He was pretty excited to get the job when we first talked last summer and I know the girls were anxious to see if they could take their game up a notch under his direction.
However, in talking with athletic director Andy Guden this week, he said Reardon is looking to take on a bigger role with the Medford Youth Soccer Association and has grand visions for the sport in the city as a whole, so his expertise should still help the high school programs in the long run.
Matt Frey is the Sports Editor at The Star News.