Philadelphia Phillies: I guess it’s time to write off 2020

After a short-lived glimmer of hope that the Philadelphia Phillies and MLB could put together a 2020 season, now it seems highly unlikely.

I’m used to Philadelphia Phillies seasons never getting off the ground. But not like this.

Despite prospects for a shortened 2020 MLB season looking tenuous at best, it seemed like we were getting potential movement on that front this week until the Players Association balked harder than Steve Carlton (because he’s MLB’s all-time balks leader, get it?) at a proposal by the owners. People are absolutely hammering the players for their “line in the sand” posture, but I can see both sides of things.

Rather than resort to blaming anyone, I’m just heading straight to the unfortunate conclusion, which is that I now hold out zero hope to be able to watch the Phillies play in 2020. That’s terrible enough in and of itself if we could just move on to 2021 without skipping a beat, but I’m afraid that baseball is in for some long-term damage here if they can’t at least put some product on the field.

I’m personally such a brainwashed fan that I’ll probably jump back into it with both feet, but I can’t honestly tell you how I’ll react if this comes to pass. Can I bring myself to support the players who had a hand in shutting down baseball for an entire year? Again, I probably can, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be tremendously wounded as a fan. We all would be.

Some might never come back, just like when the strike of 1994 occurred, and even that debacle wasn’t as bad as this one would be in terms of games lost. Yes, the strike wiped out the World Series that year, which stunk for the teams in the running. But more than half the league had no shot at that point. All that those fans missed out on were about 45 regular season games that year and then another 18 after that since the following year was slightly abbreviated. Meanwhile, right now, you’re talking about a whole year taken away from fans of teams who all have an equal shot. Well, not the Orioles, but you know what I mean.

Do you remember how excited we were to see what Joe Girardi could do with this team? And how much we were looking forward to Year Two of J T. Realmuto and Bryce Harper. Speaking of which…

Realmuto isn’t coming back. I’ve speculated about this before, but I can now tell you for sure. Short of a highly unlikely one-year deal that he might have to sign because the free agent market isn’t to his liking, there’s no way the Phillies give him what he wants. Not after they beat him in arbitration, and not after they incur all of the financial losses that 2020 brings. Some other team with less money tied up is bound to back up the Brinks truck for Realmuto’s services; you can kiss him goodbye here.

As for Harper, he’ll obviously be back, but his huge contract could act as a hindrance for years to come as the Phillies try to keep payroll down in the wake of such an unexpected situation. It’s not his fault for signing it, but you have to expect that the Phillies will be extra careful if the game of baseball finds itself on shaky ground. Basically, we won’t be seeing them give out too many high-dollar contracts in the near future.

We were also looking forward to new shortstop Didi Gregorius, but you can scratch that. And how was Andrew McCutchen going to fare in his return from injury? We’ll find out next year. We’ll also have to wait another year for the debuts of Alec Bohm and Spencer Howard. I hope they keep in shape while there’s nowhere to play this year.

Next: Phillies Retro Recap: May 13, 2000

So many questions that won’t be answered. And that goes for every team. It’s pain across the board. I’d like to tell you that everyone will eventually come together and give us a 2020 MLB season. But I just don’t see it happening. Somebody’s gotta say it.

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