After Thursday’s game and half, we finally had our first full slate of matchups for the 2020 season. This provided our first real look into what we can expect over the next 64 days of the regular season. Most teams tried to create a sense of normalcy in the ballpark: Ambient crowd noise from the MLB The Show games was filtered through the PA systems; thousands of cardboard cutout fans filled the stands around the dugouts; and the mascots roamed the seats, looking for a friend. There were still interesting events that could’ve happened in any other normal season, from Bryce Harper‘s flashy fashion to Bill Murray doing his best Harry Caray impersonation.
Let’s take a look at what happened on day two of the MLB season.
Extra-Inning History is Made
A 9th-inning home run by Angels catcher Jason Castro tied the score at 3-3 vs. the Athletics, setting up a possible comeback in what had been a very close game. The Angels then managed a bases loaded, two-out situation after Liam Hendriks intentionally walked Mike Trout with runners on 1st and 2nd. However, Hendriks ended the inning after punching out Shohei Ohtani. The Angels were able to quickly retire the Athletics in the bottom half of the inning, leading to the first and only game this season to go to extra innings.
This meant that for the first time in baseball history, extra innings would start with a runner on second base. Because of his strikeout, Ohtani would receive this honor.
Another #OpeningDay History Made!
— Pickswise (@Pickswise) July 25, 2020
Ohtani forgot about this rule and had to be reminded of it at the start of the inning.
Ohtani ended up getting out in a fielder’s choice that featured a great scoop from Matt Chapman. The Angels were able to load the bases with two outs, but they scored no runs after Andrelton Simmons grounded out to end the inning.
The Athletics then started the bottom of the 10th with Marcus Semien as the runner placed on second base, and they quickly worked a bases loaded situation with one out. With slugger Matt Olson on deck, Angels manager Joe Maddon decided to go with a defensive shift that featured five infielders and only two outfielders.
Bonus infielder pic.twitter.com/48c51wMS9h
— CJ Fogler #BlackLivesMatter (@cjzero) July 25, 2020
Olson then proceeded to completely disregard every player on the field as he obliterated the first pitch he saw over the heads of the cardboard fans in right field.
WALK OFF GRAND SLAM MATT OLSON pic.twitter.com/mFRiPlx3zc
— Starting 9 (@Starting9) July 25, 2020
What a fitting way to end day two of the 2020 season.
Now, let’s find out the answer to the most pressing question on everyone’s mind:
How Are the Mascots Coping With the Pandemic?
A mascot’s entire essence relies on the passion they can draw out from the fans. The connection between a team’s mascot and its fans is perhaps the strongest bond found on earth, rivaled by that of a human and their dog. But in stadiums filled with row after row of empty seats, these mascots can be at a loss for how to pass the time.
So, how have they been coping?
Some enjoy the solitude.
Phlyin' solo. pic.twitter.com/RHZK7sqmlL
— Cut4 (@Cut4) July 25, 2020
Some yearned for a friend.
A lonely mascot, in the wild, searching for companionship. pic.twitter.com/JrexasGUoZ
— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) July 24, 2020
And some were in a happy mood because they had already found their soul mate.
It’s a miracle that Slider and Mr. and Mrs. Met were all able to find a mask that could actually fit around their cartoonishly large noggins. I don’t blame the Phillie Phanatic for not wearing a mask, I don’t think modern science is able to build a mask that can cover his snout.
Wally the Green Monster was spotted subtly sporting the Red Sox’s team colors with a navy blue and red mask. He was also seen wearing a T-shirt with a very simple message:
— Andy M (@andyxop) July 25, 2020
The mascots are making the most with what they have. Even though us fans aren’t there, they are still trying their best to do their jobs and rile up some energy. Like us, the mascots are finding their own ways to adapt to this strange season. If you have a mascot friend in your life, reach out to them and let them know you are thinking about them.
Slider sure did look lonely.
Bryce Harper Continues to Be the Phillie Phanatic’s No. 1 “Phan”
Perhaps the reason the Phillie Phanatic looked so relaxed in the photo included above is because he knows he has a close friend in that of teammate Bryce Harper.
Harper has been trying to ingrain himself with the city of Philadelphia ever since he signed his contract. While his first press conference contained the faux pas of saying he would “bring the title back to D.C.” – which technically did happen – since then, he has tried to win over the fans by embracing the sleek aura of the Phillie Phanatic.
Previously, Harper was seen wearing a custom Phanatic merch, such as this headband:
— Dave (not the banking app or TV show) Moreno (@aeromat) October 31, 2019
However, on Friday, Harper went further.
The perfect suit doesn't exi— pic.twitter.com/uOIvrtVZsX
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) July 24, 2020
Yes, that is a Phanatic suit. But he even upped his cleat game.
Cleats with the fur. pic.twitter.com/hc4evwPmm0
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) July 24, 2020
Yes, those are Phanatic cleats. Hopefully that is not real Phanatic fur …
Nathan Eovaldi’s Quantum Wardrobe Malfunction
Nathan Eovaldi became the first person to wear No. 7 on the mound for the Red Sox since Steve Lyons threw one scoreless inning against the Twins back in 1991. The problem here is that Eovaldi’s number is 17.
Eovaldi started off his game wearing his normal number, 17. Nothing appeared amiss for the first two innings, but when Eovaldi came out to pitch the third, he was wearing the number of his battery-mate, Christian Vazquez. What makes this more interesting is that Eovaldi switched back to his original number for the fourth inning and there were no changes the rest of the game.
What the hell happened to Nathan Eovaldi's jersey number in the third inning??? pic.twitter.com/845Ygnf5dN
— Offspeed Podcast (@OffspeedPod) July 25, 2020
Did Fenway Park experience some sort of momentary quantum teleportation that shifted them to an alternate universe? Did Eovaldi spill soup on his jersey in between innings, forcing him to put on whatever other jersey was within his reach? Or is this Vazquez and Eovaldi’s attempt to mess with writers like me who like to over-analyze meaningless things? The world may never know … but I think it can all be explained by time travel.
Anthony Rizzo Sanitizes the Braves’ Hitters
After Orlando Arcia singled in the third inning, Rizzo offered Arcia a spritz from a mini-hand sanitizer bottle that he kept in his back pocket.
White Sox Fan and His 99 Clones Jeer the Twins
Most baseball teams tried to give a sense of normalcy by filling up the stands with cardboard cutouts of their biggest fans. One fan in Chicago tried to use this opportunity to rattle the opposing team.
The White Sox sold these cardboard cutouts spots to fans at a cost of $49 each (all this money would be donated to charity). Season ticket holder Paul Garrett bought 100 of these cutouts and had them positioned right behind the opposing team’s dugout.
Garrett’s menacing pose, yelling with his hand around his mouth, was supposed to instill fear in the opposing Minnesota Twins. However, the Twins were able to shake off this silent heckling as they pummeled the White Sox for a 10-5 win.
Texas Rangers Surprise Players With Pre-Game Zoom Call
The day’s wholesome highlight occurred on the field of the brand new Globe Life Field just before the game started.
A lot of teams have isolated themselves during the regular season to mitigate risk, meaning that these players will be separated from their families for almost three months. To help things feel a bit less lonely, the Texas Rangers held a pre-game Zoom call on the scoreboard with the family members of players and coaches.
— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) July 25, 2020
Bill Murray and a Cub Lead the 7th-Inning Stretch
Most of the ballparks stands are sans fans, but Wrigley Field is one of the few stadiums where you can watch the game live if you are sitting in the rooftop seats. To keep plenty of space between fans, those sections were much more sparse than they usually were on Opening Day.
Nonetheless, the Cubs tried to keep the energy up in the ballpark by bringing in one of the Cubs’ most famous fans to lead the seventh-inning stretch:
— Billy Krumb (@ClubhouseCancer) July 25, 2020
Even as Bill Murray approaches his 70th birthday, the youthful enthusiasm and passion of this sing-along shows why many say he could be the Cubs’ No. 1 fan.
Featured image source: https://twitter.com/Pickswise/status/1286899202056843264/