Tampa – Local baseball fan Allen Cole gave a sigh of anxious anticipation this week as he eyed the 2020 Tampa Bay Rays schedule. “This will truly be one for the record books,” says Cole, 30, a computer programmer who has worked from home since March. “The sort of physical endurance a fan needs for a season like this, a lot of guys won’t be up for it.”
Cole refers to, of course, the fact that the entire Rays season includes just six days, none consecutive, without a televised game.
“A normal season has regular stretches of two to four days without a game,” says Cole. “The guys I know use those days to catch up on work, read to their kids, maybe call their mother. It’ll be real hard to do that this year.”
A condensed season with nearly constant games presents other challenges, too.
“With fewer games in total, I’ll probably go through fewer cases of beer,” Cole admits. “But never before have we seen this concentration of twelve ounce curls. You’re going to see a lot of guys that usually drink right handed adding some left handed days to their rotation.”
A unique season presents more than just physical challenges. Sports fans are emotional, sometimes egregiously so. A season with fewer nights off presents fewer opportunities to balance expectation, loss, and reality. Cole agrees.
“After a tough series loss, you know, maybe you dive into a work project or take your wife to dinner…whatever you gotta do to forget that loss for a while. With all these games, it’ll be hard to find time for lesser obligations. The real pros will get through it, though.”
Allen’s wife Donna, 31, speaking to us during a brief break from her eight hour New Girl marathon, has fears of her own.
“Allen hasn’t shaved since March,” says Donna, a part time hairdresser. “He usually does one of those damn ‘playoff beards.’ If this season bleeds into No Shave November…he’ll be able to play Joseph in our annual church Christmas play.”
Hygiene concerns abound for Donna, who indicates Allen has taken exactly eleven showers since his employer began work from home operations. “I’ve counted,” she contends.
Allen, to his credit, is resolute in the face of mounting skepticism.
“The work you do in the pre-season is so important, now more than ever. But you can’t lose sight of your daily preparation…do I have enough sunflower seeds, is there an afternoon start today….these are the questions that can really ruin a good season.”
In a year of mounting uncertainty, it’s impossible not to see the glint of optimism in Cole’s eye, a fan at the peak of his game.
“You train your whole life for the chance that a season like this might happen,” he says. “To finally have this opportunity to prove yourself…it’s truly special.”
At Press Time Allen Cole had not responded to three requests to take out the trash.