A sad reminder of the state of our sports world arrived in the mail yesterday. I had ordered the Topps Now Opening Day card sets for the Cubs and White Sox, hoping to have them in time to take to Spring Training. Maybe use them for autographs? Needless to say, I’ve been anticipating their long-overdue arrival for months. The kid in me was excited to see which player had personally autographed his card, which is why I paid the overinflated prices. It was like a cheap prize in a Cracker Jack box, a unique bonus only because you found it. Last year, I got one signed by Ian Happ of the Cubs. Who would it be this year?

I still haven’t gotten my money back from the tickets I bought for that March Spring Training game that was canceled between the Sox and Cubs. When the cards arrived yesterday, it prompted another angry e-mail to the broker. Ticket-centers.com had assured a full refund in two to four weeks. It’s now been more than six weeks since the virus struck-out baseball, and they’re still stalling on reimbursement. In the meantime, Major League Baseball is already starting to issue refunds on regular season games that were missed in April. I feel bad for everyone associated with the game from both the financial and “love of the game” standpoints. The current state of the season is still up in the air, like a game-ending pop-up that never seems to drop. 

It was supposed to be Christmas, but when I finally unwrapped my card sets, I was immediately filled with disappointment. First, there were no autographs as I anticipated. Some of the photos looked like they were thrown together at the last minute, while there were definite short-cuts in the player descriptions on the back. This was on every Sox card: “With a burgeoning youth movement in full swing, the Chicago White Sox are ready to take the next step in 2020, after adding several key pieces to their promising core.” The Cubs offered: “With fan-favorite David Ross now at the helm, the Cubs will look to reclaim the top spot in the NL Central Division.” In my opinion, it was a pretty lazy effort in highlighting each respective player. Even though Topps surely struggled with player access, I still feel they need to do some make-goods to keep me as a customer. 

Baseball, like everything else, will never be the same, even when “normalcy” eventually returns. Discussions continue on playing this season without fans in the stadiums that surround Phoenix. It will be a far cry from my most memorable Opening Day at Wrigley Field on April 3, 1998 when they honored Harry Caray and topped the Expos 6-2. I still have the ticket stub and commemorative pin. Without people in the stands, at the least there won’t be annoying lawsuits from disengaged fans struck by foul balls. I suppose it would be better than no baseball at all, but the real experience is in going to the ballpark. I’m afraid the televised games will be as uneventful as the player descriptions on the back of my new cards. Plus, even if we could go to the games, it would take a six-foot pen to get an autograph. There may be an Opening Day, but there’s really no “open” about it.