I Was Going to Write About Opening Day
Jacob DeGrom was supposed to throw the first pitch to the champion Washington Nationals, a few miles west of me, on a sunny, cool day.
Instead, I was going to write something about the absence of baseball.
Then I read about a valued colleague who passed the other day, from the virus, and that delivered another reality check.
We have enough reminders that life is not normal – and when will it be again?
I go out in our town just enough to run a few errands.
The other day we ordered takeout from one of our favorite places in our town. It was gut-wrenching to join a small line indoors, six feet of separation, picking up packages.
It was mid-day. The place should have been packed with moms and their squeaky little kids, with rambunctious teen-agers from the high school, with working people on a break. Instead, chairs were upturned on tables and
a few workers were packing up pizza and regular meals for the customers.
A lady in the drive-in window at the bank smiled at me from behind the glass.
From my car, I nodded at the crossing guard near the post office.
The Town Dock was blocked off. Normally, dozens of people would be parking at mid-day, to sniff the salty bay and maybe take a walk.
I don’t need to discuss the ominous details about the virus in the NYT. Did you see those amazing charts – online and in “the paper?”
We get the paper delivered every morning in blue bags, straight from my friends at the plant in Queens. They cannot work from home. Be safe, all of you.
Our family sounds okay – six other adults working at their homes, three younger ones doing schoolwork online, two others also safe, last we heard.
My wife was on this early, urging me not to ride the subway, see old friends for lunch. We are getting by. Blessed. But there is the anxiety – expressed by doctors and nurses who go on TV, talking of shortages, displaying what soldiers in combat call The Thousand-Yard Stare.
They are on the front line, sent in without the right equipment, in a nation nominally in charge of a business failure who was already a dangerous fool when people voted for him.
Now the combat is raging. Leaders like Andrew Cuomo try to pull things together, shaming “the government” into getting a clue.
Friend of mine is self-quarantined in his apartment. His doctor thinks he might have the virus, but cannot help him get a test.
“Opening Day,” I texted. “Robin Roberts vs. Don Newcombe.” That is our generation. The Brooklyn Dodgers were our team.
Sometimes, for a few minutes, baseball will get you through. My man Mike From Northern Queens sent me a link about picking the best catchers in the history of every major-league franchise. Yogi and Campy. And some, from newer franchises out west, I hardly recognized the names of the choices.
That is the beauty of baseball – the history, the meaningful statistics at all positions, never mind the new analytics. The arguments. Carter or Piazza?
Opening Day. Baseball fans believe there is nothing like it. So much tradition. My colleague Bill Lucey in Cleveland sent me a piece he wrote a few years ago about the history of presidents at Opening Day.
I remember in the early 80s, when the Mets’ opening day was snowed out, and I squawked, how nature could do this to us?
Sports don’t cut it right now. I don’t care if the Olympics were postponed, or even the European soccer tournament.
I wish I could concentrate on the Mets, fret about whether the Mets will finally give a steady position to Jeff McNeil, let him swing at the first pitch and get something going.
I wish I could worry about the starting rotation, now that Noah Syndergaard is getting Tommy John surgery today. (Apparently this is considered essential surgery.)
Yankee fans, other fans, bless their hearts, may have their own preoccupations.
However baseball is not essential at the moment. What is essential is convincing our “leader” that instead of sending people back to work with a nasty virus on the loose – to save “his” economy – we need to stay in place, including baseball players and baseball fans and people who work at the ballpark.
No Game Today.
3/26/2020 09:18:29 pm
3/27/2020 10:51:03 pm
Bruce, thanks., I viscerally miss the subway. I grew up half a mile from the end of the line in Queens (Halfway between the Cuomos and the Trumps.) I was taking the subway at 10 or so, to Madison Square Garden. It's in my blood -- pardon the expression. I love taking my wife on jaunts into the city that involve a change of trains. I cannot wait to get back.
3/27/2020 11:00:10 pm
3/28/2020 07:44:05 am
Bruce: my cousin lived in Toronto; her two little boys traversed the city in ubiquitous (red?) buses at 10 or 11 and so did my son when he accompanied me on a business trip when he was 11 or 12. As you know, school kids in Tokyo go to distant schools by subway younger than that — or did, a decade or two ago. GV
3/28/2020 11:56:46 am
George-I also began riding the subway at age 10. I had a few years of a $0.05 fare before it jumped up to a dime.
3/28/2020 01:23:29 pm
Alan, in the old days, the front car had a huge glass window and you could watch the tracks ahead. The driver would be just on the other side of the cab door. I would get on at 179 St, (Just down the street from TrumpHaus, although who knew?) and go to the first car -- great sights, switches, lights turning green so you could proceed, sometimes workmen between stations, New cars do not give that view. I still love the view. And miss it. GV
4/2/2020 09:24:06 pm
Late joining here, been preoccupied, but speaking of Subway views, that posted of Mets' Ballyard at the head of this post is taken from a spot on the Flushing Line platform bound for Hudson Yards (Times Square, back in the day). (I am surprised the brand name was allowed to appear; I have learned to obliterate in the shots I have taken, whether with a tree trunk or a dinosaur.)
3/27/2020 08:14:51 am
Great piece, George. I have written about Opening Day and Passover. Springtime, hope, and freedom. Why is this night different? Too much uncertainty to sit now and write. Cherish family and do the best you can. Empathize with someone else's family. Someone is suffering worse than me, that's for sure. Say it aint so.
3/27/2020 10:56:03 pm
Mendel, because you are yourself a first responder....the rabbi on the scene....you know what it's like. I am trying to stay away from the tube but when I allow myself to watch for half an hour, I am stunned by the Thousand-Yard Stare on the first responders These brave nurses and docs. They've been sent out with armor, like the young soldiers in the tanks in Iraq who were sent out without proper protection against IEDs. And some of the TV broadcasters have somewhat the same look -- day after day, horror. GV
3/28/2020 09:36:41 am
3/28/2020 04:01:27 pm
The front of the first subway care was the best. I loved when the car took the curves and when the #1 went to battery park.
3/27/2020 02:26:48 pm
Remember the “Hot Stove League,”. Well we are the 2020 version.
3/27/2020 10:58:34 pm
Ed, first Mets home game, 1962, Polo Grounds, nasty sleety rain. I was in the stands with a buddy from Newsday. You know, the crowd (not capacity) knew it was in on history. It's been like that -- the National League was back, Casey was back, and so what if the team was lousy.
3/27/2020 11:03:22 pm
3/28/2020 07:52:07 am
Casey? I think about him every day, use his phrases. Man born 1890 vivid to me in 2020. GV
3/28/2020 09:44:50 am
3/28/2020 11:40:22 am
First rule: never get old guys talking about nostalgia! My Dad was born in 1902 in NYC, (actually NY Foundling Hospital.). He remembers he and other boys “scaling” their caps under cars and shouting, “Get a horse!.” Saw Babe Ruth play. Became BROOKLYN Dodger fan. While Peggy and I were living a thousand miles away, he became a Met fan. On visits I would ask him how he could watch such a lousy team. In 1981 we moved back to LI and I became a Mets fan, in time to watch the Playoffs and Series home games at Shea. Only WS I attended live. ‘55 WS, Podres 2-0 win, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, I cried after frustration from 1947 on.
3/28/2020 12:37:57 pm
3/28/2020 01:05:07 pm
Thanks BRUCE, back atcha. Tried to post a pic, but not able. It is a cartoon. US tanks lined up at Canadian Border. Warning by megaphone, “By order of President trump, no one will be permitted to cross!”
3/28/2020 08:14:23 pm
Ed, Alan, Mendel, Bruce, George,
3/28/2020 01:14:26 pm
3/28/2020 09:53:45 pm
Sorry to interrupt, but given how much interest there was in the earlier post on Dr. Fauci, I thought you'd want to know that Stephan Curry interviewed him, and the interview has gotten good reviews. Here are the links for 1) the video of the interview
4/1/2020 07:55:43 am
Thanks George! My coming out of retirement to follow the Mets ended as quickly as you can imagine. Now I'm following the coronavirus. I can't thank you enough for writing this. I saved the link for almost a week before I made time to read it. Your words gave me some much needed distance from the news. The inserted links are on my fun "to do" list. -Rachel
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“I don’t think people understand how Covid affects older Americans,” Mr. Caretti said with frustration. “In 2020, there was this all-in-this-together vibe, and it’s been annihilated. People just need to care about other people, man. That’s my soapbox.”
---Vic Caretti, 47, whose father recently died of Covid at 85.
---From an article by Paula Span, who covers old age for the NYT, which currently has 2646 comments, the majority criticizing the American public – and public officials – for acting as if the pandemic is “over.”
Classic wishful thinking, at a lethal level.