The Goal Line Stand: Off-Season Observations
Must-Watch: 2008 World Champion Phillies Reunion on Zoom


By Mitch Nathanson, Historical Columnist 

50 games, 70 games, 65 games, whatever. Let’s get this nightmare of a season started, if only so we can all shut up about it and get it over with.  Sort of like the rationale behind leaving for Aunt Rose’s Goulash-infused apartment every few months or so when you were a kid.  Get in the car already so we can all get back in it sooner rather than later to go back home.  There seems to be no better motivation to get things moving on the baseball front that I can see.

Whether it’s 50 games, 60 games, or 70 the season’s going to be a sham no matter what.  Nobody’s going to consider the winner of a division consisting of teams that aren’t even in your team’s division to be anything other than a lamentable stain on baseball’s history anyway so, yes, by all means, MLB, do whatever you have to do to get this show on the road so we can park it back in the driveway as soon as possible. 

Remember when the Expos “won” the NL’s Eastern Division back in the split-season of 1981?  That was exponentially more legitimate than anything baseball might think up in 2020.  And that wasn’t legitimate by a country mile.  Ask the ’81 Reds and Cardinals before you disagree. 

So, sure, put ads on the uniforms if you want.  What the hell does anybody care anymore, anyway?  Everybody’s already angry at Rob Manfred, Tony Clark, the owners, the players, and probably even the poor schmuck with the flags who tells them where to park their cars.  Can there be even a smidgen more animosity between those who put on the game of baseball and the shrinking multitude who still watch it?  I think not.  So go crazy. 

Which was probably behind the decision to go with the universal DH this season.  Hey, almost nobody who watches National League baseball wants it so why not give it to them?  Makes about as much sense to me as anything else baseball has done recently. 

Here in Philly a crap season might be even extra crappy, what with a crap Phanatic to go along with everything else.  Yes, the current plan (wait, there’s a current plan?) does not call for mascots to roam the empty bleachers (insert Miami Marlin mascot wisecrack here) but perhaps baseball can make an exception for the nightmare the Phillies trotted out back in March in order to subvert their legal obligations to the creators of the costume. 

That crass abomination, created – no joke – under the tutelage of a bunch of lawyers, set the tone for the 2020 season before the coronavirus could even take hold.  As soon as you saw that thing in Clearwater you knew 2020 was going to be ugly.  You just didn’t know how ugly.  Now you know.  New Phanatic ugly.  That’s how ugly.

But wait, it gets uglier.  Now comes the news that at least five Phillies training in their Clearwater complex have tested positive for the coronavirus, with 20 more still awaiting test results.  After positive tests came back in some other camps, MLB shut them all down.  Temporarily, they say.  Just like the uniform ad patches and universal DH will all be temporary.  Soon the world will be righted, baseball would have us believe.  And when it is, the ad patches, universal DH, expanded playoffs, and everything else baseball has bungled in an impressively short amount of time will be righted along with it. 

I’ve got a crime scene of a Phanatic that says otherwise.

Mitch Nathanson's biography of Jim Bouton is out now. 


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