The dawn of any new season brings with it optimism and some uncertainty with how it will play out: how teams do and how players develop over the long haul.
This year’s uncertainty is at a different level given the ongoing public health crisis surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Gold Sox, under a new field manager and a number of first-year talent from a variety of colleges, opened the 2020 summer collegiate wood-bat league Thursday night with the first of a four-game series against the West Coast Kings (Bay Area). All four games will be closed to the public.
The first time the community can watch a game at Colusa Casino Stadium in-person will be Thursday, June 25.
For right now, Gold Sox manager Brock Stassi said it’s about playing the game they love while obeying the restrictions set forth by the county and Gold Sox personnel.
“Things are going to look different,” said Stassi, a former major leaguer with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2017. “You’re going to see face masks in the dugout; social distancing in the dugout and in the bullpen as well.”
As a lifelong baseball man, who played with the Gold Sox during three different stints in 2007, 2008 and 2011, Stassi said the game itself will be the constant throughout the 28-game season.
“All that matters is what is going on between the lines,” Stassi said. “It’s cool that we’re able to string something together and field a team.”
Brock’s younger brother, Max Stassi, a member of the Los Angeles Angels, may also be on hand this summer to help in part any wisdom to the 2020 Gold Sox.
There are a lot of new faces this year, one in particular is a young outfielder named Nick Vogt, who hails from UC Santa Barbara.
Vogt said he is particularly excited to work with some big league talent.
“Under the Stassis, Brock and Max, we will be learning a lot more than we expected to learn not playing baseball at (all),” Vogt said.
Vogt’s summer baseball plans were nearly shelved after his first choice league disbanded due to the pandemic. But fortunately he got a second call and was able to make it to Yuba-Sutter to play baseball.
While he said he is wary about the health concerns surrounding coronavirus, the game is what truly matters – and he’s hoping he can develop his skill-set in time to get back to school.
“It will be a different vibe,” Vogt said “... (But at) the end of the day it is just baseball.”
Brock said this summer is all about having fun, while playing the game.
“You’re rolling the dice with anything you do these days,” Brock Stassi said. “We’re keeping distance and making sure everybody who walks through the doors doesn’t have symptoms. We’re doing our part in keeping everybody as safe as possible.”