A local baseball league is planning to let the kids play this season, but will it be any fun?

My son has eagerly been awaiting news as to whether he will be able to play ball or not this summer. We've been keeping his expectations low because of the likelihood that the coronavirus would impact the season. "Even if play is possible," we warned him, "it would be very different than usual."

Boy were we right.

Even though Little League has canceled their regional tournaments and world series, local baseball organizations have been scrambling to salvage the 2020 season. This week the Poughkeepsie Babe Ruth Baseball League released their plan for a delayed summer program beginning on July 6. In an email sent out to parents, the league recognized that this is a difficult time for children, and decided that giving them a chance to play baseball as a "healthy outlet" is something they are moving forward with.

Because of current health concerns, parents will need to fill out an additional waiver that states, among other things that "The risks of injury and illness (ex: communicable diseases such as MRSA, influenza, and COVID-19) from the activities involved in this program are significant, including the potential for permanent paralysis and death." Children who are immuno-compromised or have other health concerns are strongly encouraged not to participate.

If parents do decide to go ahead with letting their children play, there are also 21 new guidelines that must be followed at each game. While I'm sure there are many families who love baseball so much that they will do anything to be able to play, some of the restrictions seem impractical at best.

Here are some of the new guidelines that I thought were pretty hilarious:

  • No handshaking/celebrations: Players and coaches should refrain from handshakes, high fives, fist/elbow bumps, chest bumps, group celebrations, etc. (Thumbs up are still OK, I assume)
  • Baseballs and Softballs should be cleaned whenever possible and an adequate supply should be on hand. (Are they really going to clean the ball every time someone touches it with a bare hand?)
  • Only two (2) players MAXIMUM in the dugout at one time, while also following 6’ social distancing guidelines at all times. (Anyone with a kid knows that the best part of the game is goofing around in the dugout. This is just NEVER going to happen)
  • All participants should wear some type of face covering while at the park, and especially while at the games... If a player chooses to wear additional PPE, they may do so as long as it does not compromise the safety of other players. (With the season pushed to July and August can you imagine having to play under the blazing sun while wearing a face mask? Or "additional PPE?")
  • Limit the number of fans to one (1) spectator per player attending games in the park. (At least we'll find out which parent is the favorite.)
  • The use of candy, chewing gum and/or sunflower seeds is not permitted by players, coaches, umpires or spectators. (Aaaand that's the dealbreaker for my son. No sunflower seeds? No need to even put on a uniform, I guess.)

The comprehensive list also included procedures for handing out trophies (they need to be wrapped and handed to coaches) and the installation of hand sanitizer stations around the dugout and field.

While I applaud the league for doing its best to make the summer as normal as possible for children, playing baseball under these conditions just doesn't seem realistic. If adults can't even wait six feet behind me and wear a mask at the grocery store, how in the world will a team of nine-year-olds be able to do any of the things listed above while playing baseball? And even if they do, just how much fun is the game going to be under these circumstances?

I'm sure there will be many families that decide to go ahead with the season and do whatever is needed to get in some baseball, and I certainly applaud them for their dedication. But sometimes you just need to know when to call it a season. After talking to my son about the new rules he decided to opt out with a resounding "NO WAY, DAD!"

So while we won't be participating in baseball this summer, I wish every family that does the very best of luck and as much fun as possible under these bizarre circumstances. Until next season, we'll be throwing the ball around in our own back yard and eating lots and lots of sunflower seeds.

Listen to the Boris & Robyn Show weekday mornings from 6AM to 10AM on 101.5 WPDH. Stream us live through the website, Alexa-enabled device, Google Home or the WPDH mobile app.

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