It was only a few days ago that I was indulging in texting foolishness with another fan who shall remain nameless.
It was during a Mets game – a Mets victory; remember them? – and we were as giddy (and mindless) as a couple of Wall Street tv yakkers during a market mood swing.
Who would make the post-season roster? That was our preoccupation. With every stupid little bounce of the ball, we would make our snap judgments.
Is the slumping Duda healthy enough for the post-season?
Can they afford a space for Young as a pinch-runner?
You gotta have places for Colon and Niese because of the pitch counts for the Youth of America.
What a luxury, to be speculating on the final utility spot, the last seat in the bullpen.
We forgot half a century of more misery than joy.
In the two losses to the Yankees, the Mets seemed to be carrying the curse of the pitch count, their young pitching stars facing limits, like some exotic breed of butterfly.
It is hard to argue against medicine, which knows how to put pitching arms back together. The Mets’ management – even Matt Harvey’s manipulative agent Scott Boras – did not invent pitch counts for rebuilt patients.
The pitch count is here to stay. No sense in harboring nostalgia for bygone days, when wily pitchers could outsmart bitty little popgun hitters. Nowadays pitchers are mostly brutes, some of them bionic, trying to blow the ball past other brutes with bats in their hands.
Somehow the Mets have accumulated a rotation packed with fragile pitching machines. It is not just about the obvious self-interest of Harvey, the Dark Knight, indeed. He’s got reputable doctors telling him to back off at some point. The Mets’ front office did not invent this.
The least Mets’ fans can do is stop speculating on post-season rosters. Remember the last terrible days of 2007 and 2008.
Who’s the long man in the post-season? Who could get lefties out in October? Banish these thoughts and grab the worry beads. These are, after all, the Mets.
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.