Steve Eighinger

That next baseball lunch is on hold

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Mar. 26, 2020 12:01 am Updated: Mar. 27, 2020 5:10 am

That next hamburger is going to taste absolutely wonderful. And I'll probably have my customary side order of fried mushrooms, too.

Unfortunately, I'm going to have to wait awhile on both.

Normally, it's about this time every year that Quincy Mayor Kyle Moore and I get together at O'Shea's for what we term a "baseball lunch," a noontime excuse to talk about our favorite Major League Baseball teams. In his case, it's the Los Angeles Dodgers. For me, it's my beloved Cleveland Indians.

I don't remember how this tradition started, or exactly how many years ago when it began, but we were friends long before he became mayor.

Obviously, this year's baseball lunch is on hold until we get through this COVID-19 thing.

The mayor has way too many things on his plate to worry about the Dodgers' starting rotation, and I'm kind of busy, too, trying to stay on top of all the local ramifications tied to the pandemic. (But, I'll be the first to admit, at some point each day I check to see if the Indians have worked out a contract extension with all-world shortstop Francisco Lindor.)

The mayor and I have this unwritten ground rule when we get together for one of these lunches, which usually happen two or three times a year. We only talk about baseball, or suggestions about what TV programs or movies might be good investments of our time. There are no conversations about city hall or the media.

Unfortunately, our next lunch remains on hold. At best, we probably won't have a baseball season until about June, so my hamburger and mushrooms will have to wait. And for those wondering, the mayor also enjoys some sort of quality sandwich, but usually with a quite a few more toppings than I prefer.

During a recent conversation, the two of us joked about when the next baseball lunch might occur. That was before COVID-19 had entered our daily conversation. Baseball talk, and many other things, are now sitting on the back burner as we all await a return to some sort of normalcy.

What many might have forgotten in wake of the impact of the coronavirus is this was supposed to be the opening weekend for the Major League Baseball season.

Instead of concern over the Cardinals' run production or how many home runs the Cubs' Anthony Rizzo may hit, we find ourselves watching other kinds of statistics -- like the rise in COVID-19 numbers in all areas of the nation.

I remain confident we'll have some form of a truncated baseball season, which I think will be important for the overall American psyche. Sure, football is now the most popular sport in the nation if you go by TV ratings and that type of thing, but baseball will always be the so-called national pastime.

Just whet your baseball whistle, here's how I see the 2020 season -- in whatever form it eventually takes -- playing out:

National League East: Defending World Series champ Washington's rotation keeps it the class of the division.

National League Central: In what should be a four-team scramble, I like Cincinnati and its revamped and quite formidable roster. The Reds may now have the strongest pitching in the Central. The Brewers, Cubs and Cards -- in that order (sorry, St. Louis fans) -- will challenge.

National League West: Los Angeles should win this division by 15 games.

American League East: Even with all of the Yankees' injuries, they will be tough to beat.

American League Central: The Indians, Minnesota and maybe the up-and-coming White Sox should all make it interesting. I lean toward Cleveland's pitching.

American League West: Oakland will edge Houston.

World Series: Dodgers over Oakland in a West-Coast finale.

I can't wait to discuss those picks with our mayor at our next baseball lunch, which I hope is much sooner than later.