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If there is a baseball season, opening day should be in Iowa

By John Burbridge
sports@charlescitypress.com

Trick Question Movie Trivia Time

What flick has the quote “If you build it, they will come”?

Careful. This quiz throws curves.

For example, if you answered Casablanca had the request “Play it again, Sam”, that would be Strike One!

Humphrey Bogart’s “Rick”, though he may have conveyed it, didn’t word-for-word say that to his resident piano player.

And if you answered Field of Dreams was where the cornfield whispered the former quote to Kevin Costner’s struggling farmer “Ray”, that would be Strike Two!

The ethereal message was “If you build it, he will come” — a reference to Ray’s deceased father he never made peace with.

Contestants may have a right to “rhubarb” if not provided correct answers — movies which the quotes do come from. That may require some deep film archive research which may or may not yield a loose translation or two from an Ingmar Bergman film. And no, he wasn’t Bogart’s love interest in Casablanca.

The misquote from Field of Dreams has, nonetheless, been a rallying cry for major projects. This does not include ballparks alone, but the misquote/cry has particularly resonated as of late in Charles City with the near-completion of the new baseball/softball sports complex adjacent to the high school.

The demise of the spring sports season as well as the remainder of the school year have been well documented. But there is still a free-swinger’s chance that Iowa’s prep summer sports — baseball and softball — will be played.

The ceremonial first pitches at the new complex were due to be a local landmark event even without the world being hit with the mother of all slumps. Now whenever that special day comes, it will invoke much greater emotional weight.

Still, this may end up being a summer without baseball and softball — even without Major League Baseball.

Throughout the still young millennium, MLB has been mired in the “ebb” part of its ebb and flow of pastime relevance. Despite measures to speed things up, games still take too long with reviews of every bang-bang call and multiple mid-half-inning pitching changes.

But the strained relationship fans have with baseball would likely be rekindled enough to evoke deep pangs of heartbreak if the pandemic strikes out the entire season.

Baseball fans have had to endure work stoppages before. In 1994, a players’ strike resulted in no World Series. Take note if we ever play Trick Question Sports Trivia Time — that wasn’t the first time the WS has been cancelled. (1904 when National League champs the New York Giants refused to play the “bush leaguer” Boston Americans)

No baseball this year could start to fray the pollyanna “We’ll get through this together” collective consciousness, sour brave faces, and make all those Skyped split-screened interviews conducted by talk-show hosts and television journalists more annoying if they’re not already insufferable.

The United States, which has suffered the most COVID-19 casualties than any other country, needs baseball to return more than ever. And the return needs to occur on a singular out-of-the-ordinary “grand opening day.”

But when and where?

Let me offer a time (Aug. 13) and place (Dyersville, Iowa).

I may be dreaming to expect the Field of Dreams Game pitting the Chicago White Sox against the New York Yankees to be played this summer. But as of this writing, it’s still on.

Even if there is a baseball season, the game — which will take place near the movie site — will likely be moved back to next season.

Then again if there is a season, mid-August is probably the most reasonable time to start it. I know many may not agree with my “optimism”, and are rather banking on the MLB playing meaningful games by June or — worst case scenario — by July.

But even with the much-anticipated gradual re-opening of the country done sensibly without a hitch, the MLB should still be months away from its first pitch.

Obviously well before that happens, every single player, coach and MLB employee needs to be tested and cleared … then tested and cleared again periodically during the shortened season. For that to happen without mass protests citing preferential treatment, testing needs to be readily available for the entire populous.

And let’s not forget the refitted safety measures for all the venues.

Yeah, mid-August may be a bit optimistic.

It’s probably the latest an MLB season could start to remain meaningful. But, boy!, a 40-game regular season could only give more credence to the perfunctory phrase “Every game counts”.

The Field of Dreams Game was pitched and promoted as a sentimental novelty with the hope of becoming annual — kind of like outdoor National Hockey League games and basketball games played on aircraft carriers have become.

But as an ideal opening day under the circumstances with an ideal maximum crowd of well under 10,000, the game would be elevated to a more celestial plane with the potential of being the most sublime event in the history of sportskind.

It could very well beckon the words of Walt Whitman as a precursor to the national anthem.

I see great things in baseball. It’s our game, the American game. It will repair our losses and be a blessing to us.

That quote concludes another Kevin Costner baseball-themed movie. I’ll give you a hint for this one: It’s not set in Iowa but rather in (Bull) Durham, North Carolina.

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