Okay, the Mets stunk it up in extra innings Friday night. Not sure Collins should have gone back to Carlos Torres one night later, but if they keep playing extra innings, Torres will keep being available.
Laura Vecsey was ranting about Cespedes' apparent loaf after the inside-the-park HR. Blessedly, I missed it. I had switched to a swath of "Bird Man," which I had never seen. Michael Keaton. The Mets. You are seeing a pattern here?
Mets fans still have Thursday night, and, as Gary Cohen blurted on the tube, "The play of the year!"
Carlos Torres of the Mets is one of those unsung players that exist on every post-season team – the guys who helped get their teams there.
The Mets of 1969 had pitchers named Calvin Koonce and Don Cardwell. The Mets of 1986 had Rick Aguilera and Randy Niemann, among others.
Amidst this current bizarre spontaneous combustion sparked by the salary-dump arrival, Yoenis Cespedes, there are so many disparate elements. Consider Carlos Torres, tall and lanky, out of Kansas State and San Jose State, who does his job, impassively, maturely.
Torres is rarely interviewed. When he is, he comes off, as Casey Stengel used to say about Wakefield and Anderson and Altman, “a university man.”
Torres has not been as good this year as last year. So it goes. But his exploits Thursday night will always be remembered by hard-core fans. Good grief, I think I have become one.
In the 10th inning Thursday, the first batter Torres faced whacked a grounder off his soccer-style boot and bolted toward first. Daniel Murphy scrambled to recover the ball wide of first and violated the Mets’ own Murphy’s Law: Don’t Improvise, Murph. He flipped the ball sideways, blind, toward first base, classic Murphy, hoping Torres would get there. Like a greyhound, Torres sprinted to the base, caught the ball, and Jeff Francoeur nudged him aside, to make sure not to maim him, I think. First out.
Three innings later, Torres dribbled a ball to deep short and the shortstop messed it up, as Torres again sprinted to first – for his first hit and, as far as I can tell, his first trip to the bases since 2013.
Torres took a lead and dove back to first like a professional pinch-runner, as the Mets’ radio guys pointed out. Then he toured the bases, bolting home on Murphy’s double for the go-ahead run. The Mets scored four runs and Jeurys Familia finished up.
No matter what happens from now on, Mets fans will always remember Torres, this long, lean, pitcher playing the game the way it used to be played, before the gimmick of the designated hitter, by pitchers like Ruth and Ferrell, Gibson and Newcombe, Drysdale and Guidry. Torres hit, in a fashion. He ran. He fielded. He pitched. He was an athlete. National League ball. Real baseball.
In this strange unexpected season, another memory.
(Portrait of a professional long man, after pitching second through fifth innings, 2014.)
Measuring Covid Deaths, by David Leonhardt. July 17, 2023. NYT online.
The United States has reached a milestone in the long struggle against Covid: The total number of Americans dying each day — from any cause — is no longer historically abnormal….
After three horrific years, in which Covid has killed more than one million Americans and transformed parts of daily life, the virus has turned into an ordinary illness.
The progress stems mostly from three factors:
First, about three-quarters of U.S. adults have received at least one vaccine shot.
Second, more than three-quarters of Americans have been infected with Covid, providing natural immunity from future symptoms. (About 97 percent of adults fall into at least one of those first two categories.)
Third, post-infection treatments like Paxlovid, which can reduce the severity of symptoms, became widely available last year.
“Nearly every death is preventable,” Dr. Ashish Jha, who was until recently President Biden’s top Covid adviser, told me. “We are at a point where almost everybody who’s up to date on their vaccines and gets treated if they have Covid, they rarely end up in the hospital, they almost never die.”
That is also true for most high-risk people, Jha pointed out, including older adults — like his parents, who are in their 80s — and people whose immune systems are compromised. “Even for most — not all but most —immuno-compromised people, vaccines are actually still quite effective at preventing against serious illness,” he said. “There has been a lot of bad information out there that somehow if you’re immuno-compromised that vaccines don’t work.”
That excess deaths have fallen close to zero helps make this point: If Covid were still a dire threat to large numbers of people, that would show up in the data.
One point of confusion, I think, has been the way that many Americans — including we in the media — have talked about the immuno-compromised. They are a more diverse group than casual discussion often imagines.
Most immuno-compromised people are at little additional risk from Covid — even people with serious conditions, such as multiple sclerosis or a history of many cancers. A much smaller group, such as people who have received kidney transplants or are undergoing active chemotherapy, face higher risks.
Covid’s toll, to be clear, has not fallen to zero. The C.D.C.’s main Covid webpage estimates that about 80 people per day have been dying from the virus in recent weeks, which is equal to about 1 percent of overall daily deaths.
The official number is probably an exaggeration because it includes some people who had virus when they died even though it was not the underlying cause of death. Other C.D.C. data suggests that almost one-third of official recent Covid deaths have fallen into this category. A study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases came to similar conclusions.
Dr. Shira Doron, the chief infection control officer at Tufts Medicine in Massachusetts, told me that “age is clearly the most substantial risk factor.” Covid’s victims are both older and disproportionately unvaccinated. Given the politics of vaccination, the recent victims are also disproportionately
Republican and white.
Each of these deaths is a tragedy. The deaths that were preventable — because somebody had not received available vaccines and treatments — seem particularly tragic. (Here’s a Times guide to help you think about when to get your next booster shot.)
From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.