“People will come, Ray. They'll come for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come, Ray. The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again. Oh...people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.”

James Earl Jones, "Field of Dreams"

Major League Baseball and its Players Association union this week announced a plan to begin the 2020 season. Better late, than never.

The regular season – 60 games over some 66 days – is expected to begin by July 23, with the moronic designated hitter rule to be used in both the National and American leagues, meaning NL managers can simply fill out the lineup card and take a nap like their AL counterparts have been doing since the 1970s.

Given the COVID-19 "pandemic," Major League teams will have lists of 60 players eligible to play in 2020. This includes a 40-man roster plus a taxi squad of 20 players.

The agreement between the owners and players also will put in force the Minor League rule for extra innings, which means every half inning after the ninth inning will begin with a runner on second base. The "designated runner" would be the player who made the final out in the prior half-inning (or a pinch-runner for that player)."

This is where I think I should, forthwith, offer my services – yet again – to Major League Baseball. Don't laugh. Please.

As I've offered to every Cincinnati Reds manager since Dave Bristol, I'm available if you need me. While Major League Baseball has endured its longest rain delay since Waite Hoyt recorded his famous "Waite Hoyt in the Rain" LPs, I've been playing baseball. Seriously.

On Father's Day this week, I received a nice card from my son. The card read: "There's nothing greater that a father can give his children than love."

On the inside, Colin wrote: "Happy Father's Day, Old Man. Sorry the world is a mess right now. Let's play two."

The "let's play two" reference was, of course to Hall of Famer Ernie Banks. Mr. Cub, indeed, who always loved the game of baseball and welcomed doubleheaders.

Seven years ago on an unseasonably warm winter's day, I wrote a column, headlined "Let's play two."

We had a 65-degree day in January. Our mission was simple. The Boys of Summer were going to make a rare winter appearance. Colin and I grabbed our baseball gloves and headed to our homemade ballfield. Granted, winter rules were in play, much like on your local golf course. After an hour or so of long-tossing, Colin got down in the standard catcher's crouch, signaling for a fastball from the Old Man. Roughly 60 feet to the east, I stood on the makeshift rubber. I nodded, thus accepting the catcher's request.

The pitch delivered was a perfect strike.

"Eighty?" I asked.

"Maybe 50," the catcher replied.

With an 0-1 count on the imaginary hitter, the next pitch was, in the words of erstwhile Major League catcher Bob Uecker, juuusssttttt a bit outside.

"Seventy-five?" I asked.

"Less than 50," came the response. (We were talking miles per hour, for any non-baseball fans reading this.)

After another fastball that I swear would have topped 65 on the radar gun, I had the hitter at a ball and two strikes. I shook off the one-finger salute and the deuce. Colin knows that three fingers has nothing to do with the agave plant (think tequila) and everything to do with my famous circle-change. From behind home plate, he put down three digits.

In my best Luis Tiant impersonation, I delivered. The windup started slowly, with a purposeful look toward our imaginary centerfielder (in my mind, it was former Wildcat star Clarence Brabson III playing center at the old Whiteoak High School ball diamond with the tree in right-center).

With left leg raised (every bit of a foot or two), I followed through.

Strike three.

"Forty-five?" I asked.

"Maybe," the catcher said.

The catcher was kind.

Fast-forward to Father's Day 2020.

Colin and I did, indeed, play two this past Sunday. During game one, with this guy pitching, Colin ripped a blue darter to my right. With glove hand (left), I reached to backhand the hard grounder. A bad hop came up and nailed my wrist bone. It immediately tripled in size. End of game one.

After a brief icing of the wrist, we came back and played the nightcap of our Father's Day doubleheader. (It's a tradition.) Colin knew I would not quit on a sour note or a minor injury.

This is my message to Major League Baseball: If you are looking for a "taxi squad" replacement this year, call me. I'm in the book. I can do this. If you need a "designated runner" in an extra-inning game, call me. I'm in the book. Put me in. I'm ready.

Granted, the scouting report on me most likely belies the full extent of my diamond talent. But let me assure you, my glove is oiled, the old wooden bat pine tar is below the George Brett bat handle and my pitching arm is as good as ever. (By the way, I'm good for another nine innings any day.)

Just one more pitch. Just one more at-bat. Let's play ball.

Rory Ryan is publisher and owner of The Highland County Press and was often told by Coach Dick Shaffer that he wasn't very good at baseball. ("Coach was right. I still miss him." – RR)