AP PHOTOS: Empty stands, masked players as baseball returns

The Associated Press

A cardboard cutout of Tommy Lasorda at Dodger Stadium. The shouts of Tom Hanks hawking hot dogs at the Oakland Coliseum. A shot of Cubs pitcher Jon Lester sitting in the bleachers at Wrigley Field.

With every pitch, with every swing, with every inning in empty parks across the majors, this looks, sounds and feels like the most bizarre season in big league history.

“Going to be 2020 coronavirus baseball,” Yankees star pitcher Gerrit Cole said.

Players wearing masks. Social distancing in the dugout. New rules. A skewed, 60-game season.

Plus, another sign of the times: Salutes to the Black Lives Matter movement, with players kneeling before and during the national anthem.

All of this against the backdrop of barren ballparks — no spectators allowed. Some teams are putting cardboard cutouts with fans’ faces into the box seats. You can have your dog’s likeness in the stands, too.

To make up for the stadium silence, clubs are piping in artificial crowd noise. It sounds like cheering, sort of. Perhaps the most unique audio effect is in Oakland: Hanks sold peanuts there as a teen, and the A’s are blending his voice into the vendor track.

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