Mary Bufe quarantine column photo

Mary Bufe,

Sheltering In Place

Look, nothing against baseball. But with its 67-page-long list of rules to prevent the spread of COVID-19 when baseball resumes this summer, Major League Baseball appears to be gutting some long-standing traditions. On the other hand, these new rules may make baseball more fun to watch.

Take, for example, the new rule that prohibits team mascots.

Yes, you read that right. Team mascots – right along with spitting and tobacco chewing – are now officially banned from baseball fields. And to that I say: Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye.

I mean, sure, everybody loves Fredbird. But do they really? Be honest. Have you spent any amount of time with him? And if so, what did you discuss?

Let’s just say: it can be awkward.

It’s not just Fredbird. Check out the other team mascots. Orbit, who works for the Houston Astros, bears an uncanny resemblance to a novel coronavirus. The Phillie Phanatic looks like he has been suffering from COVID-19 since 1978. And baseball’s oldest mascot, Mr. Met, is almost certainly in a high-risk group.

Can we just admit as a nation that most costumed characters are creepy? I mean, have you BEEN to Times Square? The time has come to memorialize their furry faces on a commemorative box of Wheaties and move on.

Another new MLB rule says players must arrive at the stadium already dressed in their uniform. I’m fine with that rule, too. In fact, I’d go a step further. With the game in flux, now is a perfect time to require coaches to stop dressing like players. Basketball coaches don’t do this. Neither do football or hockey coaches.

I’m not saying baseball coaches have to wear a suit and tie. I’d settle for something cleat-less and a little more, you know, age-appropriate. Team logo optional.

Speaking of coaches, another new rule forbids them from invading an umpire’s personal space to dispute calls, which could reduce ejections which, again, is fine.

But the rules don’t explain what frustrated coaches should do instead. Will they be asked to raise a red card? Send an angry text message to the ump via the right field scoreboard?

I personally like the scoreboard idea. Afterall, scoreboard videos are prohibited in the new rules. But what true baseball fan wouldn’t enjoy watching a coach’s spelling skills demonstrated in real time on a jumbotron? I’d pay to see stats on typing accuracy and speed.

While I like most of the new rules, some don’t make much sense. For example, playing catch between innings is now discouraged. PLAYING CATCH. AT A BASEBALL GAME.

And how about this one: “Personnel who rub baseballs with mud for the umpires must use gloves.”

Since when do umpires have staff who rub mud on baseballs for them? And why?

Also, will players ever be permitted to spit freely again?

In conclusion, we may all have to watch a game to find out.