Olney: Why many in baseball need reminder of their love for the game

  • Senior writer ESPN Magazine/ESPN.com
  • Analyst/reporter ESPN television
  • Author of “The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty”

The working theory is that the return of baseball could help the nation heal, or at least distract it, in the way that the sport did during World War II and after 9/11. The working theory is that the resumption of Major League Baseball, even in empty ballparks, could feel like a step toward normalcy.

If the owners and MLB Players Association can agree on compensation, perhaps settling on a percentage payment of the players’ prorated salary, and the safety protocols prove to be effective, there could be great moments — those shards of time when we might briefly set aside the current daily turmoil. Mookie Betts stepping into the box for his first at-bat with the Dodgers. The joy of any Max Scherzer inning. The promise inherent in a Nate Pearson fastball. A Nolan Arenado throw. A Pete Alonso home run. A Francisco Lindor smile.

Generations of baseball fans need all that.

But you know who else could use a baseball reminder of all that once was good, and that could be again (to borrow the words uttered by James Earl Jones in “Field of Dreams”)?

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