Major League Baseball returns tonight, but what makes this season truly different for fans is its sheer normalcy—or, at least, the huge effort it’s taken to get back to a normal experience.
Teams will play for reduced crowds (except at Globe Life Field in Texas, where the wisdom of a full reopening will be tested), and many diehard fans will still be watching from the safety of their homes rather than from crowded stands. And, for the first time, all 30 teams are playing on day one.
A new spot for Chevrolet, the official auto sponsor of the MLB, taps into a sense of optimism about the season and the pandemic, using James Earl Jones’ speech from “Field of Dreams” as a backdrop for inspirational scenes from baseball history.
Jackie Robinson runs out onto the field, and Lou Gehrig gathers his thoughts. “The one constant through all the years has been baseball,” Jones intones, a line that feels made for these times. “It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again.”
Interspersed with shots of greats like Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron are more modern images: celebrations from the dugout, women’s teams, a disabled catcher, fans stuck at home still glued to their TV sets. The spot from McCann is directed by Jaci Judelson of Rakish.
It also marks the shortest time between Opening Days. Just this past July, brands like Bank of America and Bud Light were celebrating baseball’s resilience despite a truncated season beginning nearly four months late. Whether this celebratory messaging stays in vogue remains to be seen.