Ah, but there's nothing like that annual rite of transition, the traditional opening of Major League Baseball, that gentle but strongly reassuring reminder for us that winter is over, spring is here, the grass is green again, the land has thawed out, the birds are chirping and ... yes, of course, it must be almost August.

Well, better late than never.

Buy me some fake peanuts and virtual crackerjacks.

Actually, it's just another shock to the biorhythms.

Never mind that we never know what day it is anymore.

Now our whole seasons are out of whack.

It's like Bill Murray in Ground Hog Day, except that every day is the Day After Daylight Savings Starts and you still can't get your bearings straight or your seasonal clock adjusted.

The wretched Dog Days of Summer are now trying to pass themselves off as the nation's poetic spring rebirth, so take two and hit to right.

Baseball has started, so surely that can only mean, as always, that the NBA and hockey will follow shortly.

Now we know what happened to that "bubble" for those NCAA basketball tournament hopefuls — the pro hoopsters will be playing in it, preferably well sanitized.

Football?

Many are hopeful, even more are bordering on clinical desperation, but nobody has a clue what's going to happen there yet.

But if football does start, that would certainly be reassuring, if only as that annual reminder that The Masters golf tournament and the Kentucky Derby can't be far behind (how do the azaleas do in November; do run-for-the-roses bloom in September?).

And wait. Isn't this an Olympic Year? Did I miss something.

It's possible.

You get up every morning never knowing what sport it is, although there's a good chance that LSU won the national championship again on TV the night before.

And then one day you wake up and learn that the National League is using the designated hitter.

At long last, have these people no shame, no sense of decency?

But it's something. Maybe it's baseball. We'll see. An actual team sport for one, right there on television.

I have it on good authority that these baseball games will count in the standings for an abbreviated pennant race.

And, if you don't think this is a whacked-out year, the Orioles are still in contention in late July.

God bless them.

The Blue Jays don't know where they're going to play their home games. For Toronto, anywhere but Canada seems to be the general consensus, so every city in the USA is suddenly scrambling to lure in a baseball team whose games they won't be allowed to attend.

Seattle has a hockey team named the Kraken (not cracklins) and the NFL entry in our nation's capital is now affectionately known — if not so creatively — as the Washington Football Team.

I guess that's why we need a Washington state and a Washington, D.C.

I tell you, it's a world gone bonkers.

So where have you gone, Joaquin Andujar? A sports-starved nation turns its lonely eyes to you (those eyes hopefully peering out from over a mask).

Well, I'm as confounded as you are.

But let's make the best of it.

For now, try to enjoy whatever form of baseball this turns out to be.

I may even be tempted to watch the NBA. And I always thought I might like hockey if I had a clue what the blue line was.

They may have to make up some of the rules as they go.

So be it. Give it a chance.

The MLB, NBA and NHL aren't golf or race cars. It's harder for them social distance.

But what happens with those teams could go a long way toward delivering college and NFL football some day, be it winter, spring, summer or hopefully fall.

So let's be patient with baseball.

Don't chuckle at the magic of TV's attempts to photo-shop virtual fans into the telecast. Think of it like one of those half-real, half-cartoon Disney movies like Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Give them credit for attempts at piping in crowd noise. They know you're not buying it. But they're trying.

And if stadiums want to put cardboard cutouts of people in the stands, hey, desperate times call for desperate measures.

Experiment. Get creative.

Have fun with it.

Let fans send in real pictures — you could put your ornery boss' cutout in there next to a cutout of some young underling that his wife wouldn't appreciate seeing him with on Kiss Cam.

My suggestion?

In the sea of the cardboard fandom, make sure there's a Where's Waldo in there somewhere.


Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com

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