On Thursday there will be no no-pregame batting practice, no take me out to the ball game, no screaming fans in the stands, no crack of the bat and most importantly no start to the MLB season.   

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has affected sports and its fans everywhere especially those who were ready for arguably the biggest sporting event of the yearMarch Madness. But to me, the MLB season not starting on time on Thursday hits home the hardest.   

Recently I heard the saying baseball is like your best friend; always there. But for once it will not be there for us. And it truly feels like it is like I lost a best friend.   

I know it will only be for the time being, but we still do not know when the season will start with an ever-changing timetable.  

First, it was just going to be a two-week delay, then the league was shooting for a mid-April start and now some insiders such as Keith Olberman think the MLB will only be able to get one-third of the season in. 

I think we should brace for the possibility that the season might not even be played this year.  

With each bleak and disappointing notification, that possibility gets more and more real. For a sport that did not even stop for World War 2, this would be an unprecedented event.   

Even if the season starts at the newest projection –the beginning of June- there has been talk of starting the season with no fans in attendance. While this would be a major step up from no baseball at all, there is something truly awkward about watching a professional sport in a completely empty stadium meant for over 30,000 fans.   

Imagine a walk-off hit with no cheers. Or a no-hitter with just the players on the field celebrating. Or a prospect hitting his first major league home run with no curtain call.   

To me, nothing compares to sitting in Busch Stadium, Guaranteed Rate Field or one of the other 28 stadiums across the country. Nothing compares to the chorus of fans singing the seventh-inning stretch in unison. Nothing compares catching a home run or foul ball.   

While game replays, documentaries and baseball movies on the MLB Network have been fine tiding fans over, for the time being, the absence will be felt on Thursday.   

The sweet swing of Cody Bellinger, the intimidating stare of Max Scherzer, the graceful fielding of Kolten Wong and much more will be missed by myself and many others.    

There is a wide range of scenarios being discussed for when play resumes. While the league maintains they want to have a full 162 game season, each passing day sees that possibility dwindling.    

If that is going to happen the league season will likely be played later in the calendar year with a possibility of a neutral site World Series in a warm climate or domed stadium.  

With a lot of uncertainty still left in the baseball world and outside of it, I do know one thing. I will never take baseball for granted again.   

JAKE SERMERSHEIM is a Sports Editor for The Vidette. He can be contacted at vidette_jrserme@ilstu.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @JakeSermersheim

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