The Freeway Series was supposed to start today, with both the Angels and Dodgers back in California after closing up camp in Arizona. This year was scheduled to start with one game in Anaheim, Sunday night, followed by the next two nights at Dodger Stadium.
None of that’s going to happen now, and we still don’t know when opening day will come (no sooner than May 10, if MLB continues to adhere to CDC guidelines). The reasons for the shutdown of baseball, and all sports, are sound, to limit the spread of coronavirus as best we can by staying home. This is more important than baseball, but I still miss the sport dearly.
I was especially looking forward to the Freeway Series this year.
This was the first time since 2008 that I didn’t make a trip to spring training, and I was jonesing for baseball pretty badly. I hadn’t really covered any baseball things in person in a while either. I didn’t travel to the winter meetings, I had a family function the day Anthony Rendon was introduced in Anaheim, and was stuck in a work meeting when Mookie Betts and David Price were introduced in Los Angeles. The only baseball-related thing I covered in person was checking out the construction of upgrades at Dodger Stadium in the first week of March.
Since 2012, when I quit my day job to cover baseball full-time, I went to Arizona for the entirety of spring training, all six weeks, through 2018. Last year I went out for a week. Most of those years, I skipped the Freeway Series, as it was my chance to unwind after a longtime away from home, a chance to recharge before the regular season started. But even then, I watched the games on television, and even wrote about them.
It’s probably because I grew up before interleague play that I love the Freeway Series so much. It was the annual meeting between the two local teams for me growing up, and a must watch every year. That they usually happen on or around my birthday every year was an added bonus.
Since 1997, the Angels and Dodgers have played two regular season series against each other every season. Sure, that takes away the novelty of the exhibition games at the end of spring training, but I noticed how much those games still mattered to me when the two teams didn’t play from 2000-02. Something felt missing, and I’m glad they have played exhibitions every year since.
Even the year when dudes wore adult onesies in the stands.
This year, with no in-person baseball for going on five months now, tonight was going to be the night to get it all started again. Back to the grind, as it were. I was especially excited to get back to focused, local coverage because, as much as I enjoyed writing with a broader, national angle the last year and a half or so for SB Nation, I absolutely adore the minutiae that comes with covering a team.
I love the bevy of roster moves, even if it’s just calling up a fresh arm for the bullpen for a day or two. I like the stories that come out of conversations while covering the game, and writing specifically about one team (well Angels and Dodgers, but one at a time anyway) allows those stories to get very specific. I was excited to see how the Angels might take advantage of the two-way player rule, since with Shohei Ohtani they are the only MLB team that would have been able to carry 14 pitchers at once on a 26-man roster.
Now, given that we don’t even know when the season might re-start, and that expanded rosters might be necessary in whatever modified version of 2020 we might get, that two-way rule is less important. But that’s just one storyline I was looking forward to.
All that minutiae, the final spring cuts, the finalization of two opening day rosters, maybe even an update on Griffin Canning’s elbow, all that was going to happen beginning with the Freeway Series.
Now, it’s not going to happen for awhile. We still wait, wondering when some sort of normalcy will return to our lives. Baseball will be back, eventually. I don’t know when, but I do know how much I miss the sport, and I can’t wait to get back to it.