It appears there is crying in baseball.
Whether we've earned it or not, Major League Baseball returns today for a 60-game season, even as coronavirus cases continue to surge around the country. And welcoming the sport back is the epic, nostaglic tease below, written by MLB Network analyst Tom Verducci and narrated by die-hard St. Louis Cardinals fan Jon Hamm—saluting the staying power of the national pastime, both emotionally in our imaginations and logistically in times of crisis.
The video hits familiar notes, and succeeds very well on its own terms, even if it's maybe a bit overwritten. Response to it this morning from misty-eyed fans has been pretty ecstatic, anyway. And it's true, Opening Day is an incredible moment, particularly this year—even if, truth be told, having a baseball season in 2020 might not actually be a great idea at all.
In the end, that's the tension you can feel behind this work—indeed, behind a lot of "Welcome back" advertising we've seen in the past few weeks, as parts of the country have reopened, with clearly disastrous results. Yes, we have a collective yearning for normalcy, but we also need to keep doing the practical things to keep the virus in check. Advertising that stoke those former emotions, without acknowledging the realities of the latter, can frankly feel irresponsible.
The MLB video, to its credit, addresses this tension. It mentions the sport's new safety protocols, and emphasizes that baseball can't and won't change anything about the dangers posed by the pandemic. That was the responsible thing to do. But it still has that nagging feel of being too good to be true—of jumping the gun.
How the MLB season actually plays out remains to be seen. This work certainly gets our hopes up. Let's hope they won't have the pull the product before its natural expiration date.