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July 2, 2020

6/4/2020 1:06:00 PM
The year without baseball?
If you've driven into or out of town on Highway 60-71, over the Des Moines River bridge in Windom, you no doubt have caught a glimpse of the baseball field.
You probably have come to the same conclusions I've come to:
1. It's looking great. The field is a plush green and it even looks more spectacular just after the field has been mowed - and, yes, even striped.
2. It's not flooded. For three years we endured near record flooding and its after-effects, including the deluge at Lake Shetek in 2018 that ultimately arrived in Windom in early July and covered the field for the next month. That was the flood that did in the field and, while there were three football games last fall, there hasn't been a pitch thrown on that field since June 2018.
3. It's still devoid of ball players.
Finally, for the first time in three years, we could actually be playing baseball and the field sits idle.
While the American Legion baseball season has been cancelled, baseball is being played. For instance, South Dakota is presently playing amateur baseball games.
Iowa, which plays its high school season in the summer, has begun practicing and will begin playing games on June 15.
The Wisconsin Baseball Association has announced it will hold a 12-team, single-elimination state tournament Aug. 14-16. Amateur baseball leagues around that state have already begun playing or will start playing games by July 1.
Meanwhile, in Minnesota, our baseball fields are empty, except for a handful of players getting on the field and working out. Locally, Windom Pirates Collin and Kobe Lovell and Luke Gilbertson have been getting their arms in shape on the off-chance that baseball still might be played.
Sadly, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has more pressing matters on his plate these days. But up until a week ago he didn't and he remained mum on the prospect of at least amateur baseball teams returning to the diamond.
Indeed, COVID-19 updates have pretty much been put on the back burner and the topic's not likely to move forward until at least June 15, the next schedule date when Walz is prepared to "turn his dials."
Aside from golf, baseball is the most apt social distancing sport there is. Aside from the batter and catcher, and a first baseman and runner, everyone else is appropriately distance-spaced.
Players could easily social distance in dugouts and use areas behind dugout fences to extend that social distancing.
A base umpire has no problem keeping his distance from players and a plate umpire could easily call balls and strikes from behind the pitcher.
Moreover, amateur baseball games rarely get more than 50 to 100 people at games. There is little question, people can appropriately social distance in our stands or with their own lawn chairs.
Yet, here we sit.
I know Gov. Walz is in a difficult position. He doesn't want the virus to spread and he wants to keep people safe.
However, I have yet to hear a logical explanation as to why 18 baseball players can't get together on a 2 to 3 acre field to play a game, but 500 to 700 people can pack a Walmart or Target store.
Gov. Walz has been dangling the baseball carrot long enough. He needs to put players on the field, or pull the plug - NOW!

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