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Like everyone involved in professional baseball, Mike Bordick is waiting to see whether there will be a 2020 season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The former University of Maine All-New England shortstop from Winterport and longtime major leaguer is a Baltimore Orioles baseball analyst on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (TV) and 105.7 FM The Fan radio in Baltimore.
The Hampden Academy graduate played three seasons at UMaine (1984-1986) and helped lead the Black Bears to two College World Series appearances.
The 54-year-old Bordick is cautiously optimistic there will be a season, but doesn’t expect fans to be allowed at games. The emphasis has to be on the safety of all involved, meaning playing in a controlled space that is closely monitored.
“The [players] union isn’t going to take any chances when it comes to the health of the players. And the players aren’t going to want to be at risk,” Bordick said.
Three contingency plans have been discussed for the 2020 major league season and all involve games being played in empty stadiums.
One involves holding all the games at ballparks in Phoenix, including spring training facilities and Chase Field, home of the National League’s Arizona Diamondbacks.
Another alternative would feature teams playing in six new, five-team divisions at spring training sites in Arizona and Florida. The divisions would include teams whose facilities are close to each other.
A third option would be to play all the games at five major league ballparks in Arizona, Texas and Florida because all five are either domed stadiums or have retractable roofs.
“There are a lot of great ideas out there,” Bordick said.
He said a plan implemented by Major League Baseball could take the lead among pro sports in the United States and possibly be used as a model by other sports to see if it can be executed safely. He anticipates players and team personnel would be tested regularly for COVID-19.
Taiwan’s Chinese Professional Baseball League began play on April 12 and is holding games without spectators. Taiwan, a nation of 23.6 million people, had only 428 confirmed COVID-19 cases and six deaths in part because of its having to deal with SARS [Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome] in 2003.
Japan is also exploring the possibility of beginning its baseball season without fans and is likely to make a decision next month.
Bordick, a member of the UMaine and Orioles halls of fame, will again pair up with longtime Baltimore TV play-by-play man and Old Town native Gary Thorne on MASN TV games. They have worked together the last eight seasons.
Bordick, who does pregame and postgame analysis, thoroughly enjoys his work and said he has been blessed to work with some exceptional people. They include Thorne, radio play-by-play man Jim Hunter, analyst and Baseball Hall of Famer Jim Palmer and retired play-by-play man Joe Angel.
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At UMaine, Bordick, set school season records for hits (90) and singles (71) before signing as a free agent with the Oakland A’s after his junior year.
Bordick and wife Monica (Perry) recently moved to rural Monkton, Maryland, near Baltimore. While going through some old belongings, Bordick found something interesting.
“My UMaine letter jacket,” said Bordick, adding that he has many fond memories of his time in Orono.
Bordick played for four major league teams and hit .260 in 1,720 games with 91 home runs, 257 doubles and 626 runs batted in. He was exceptional defensively, finishing with a .9821 fielding percentage that ranks seventh all time among shortstops.
He set major league records among shortstops for consecutive games without an error (110) and consecutive chances without one (543). His .9982 fielding percentage in 2002 ranks No. 1 all time among shortstops.
Bordick also is known as the man who replaced Baltimore’s Cal Ripken Jr. at shortstop after Ripken played in a record 2,632 games. He said Orioles fans were always good to him and embraced him after he became established.
“They knew it was tough to replace a legend,” he said.
The Orioles had the second-worst record in baseball a year ago at 54-108 and Bordick said it will take two or three years to rebuild the team. He believes said the Boston Red Sox “dodged a bullet” by being docked only a second-round draft choice in the 2018 sign-stealing scandal.
“It’s one thing to take a peek in [from second base] to try to see a sign but to steal signs technologically is pretty bad,” Bordick said.
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