So many questions from Friday night's Mets game.
Who was that guy wearing No.76 who plunked a 35-foot dribbler to win the game?
Back in the day, they used to talk about banjo hitters. This guy could be a guitar hitter.
And Patrick Mazeika's moment of glory came on the very same week that a hoax was circulating that ZZ Top's guitarist , Bill Gibbons, was rumored to have died in a car crash. Total hoax.
Speaking of hoaxes, something happened in the runway behind the Mets' dugout Friday night.
Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil, who had just botched a possible double play were the source of the commotion -- other Mets running down the steps to investigate something.
No problem, the lads assured reporters in the antiseptic pandemic press conference after the game. (No more sidling up to trusted sources in a crowded post-game clubhouse. Something precious has been lost in coverage of baseball and other sports. I always had a player or three in any clubhouse who would clarify stuff for me, quietly. Not gossip, usually....but a different perspective. Even for papers that cover clubs regularly, access is going, going....)
No fight, claimed Lindor, who had just crushed a game-tying homer in a season of grinding frustration. He and McNeil had been discussing, in raucous decibels, whether the giant beast they had both sighted was either a New York rat or a New York raccoon? Or was it a possum? Or one of our alligators from the marsh not far below the Mets' playground?
Nice try, boys. We New Yorkers can tell the difference, and so, I am sure, can you both.
Please coordinate your stories, and while you are at it, please coordinate your footwork around second base.
I can understand why Mets might be edgy these days. A few days ago, the Mets fired Chili Davis, a well-respected batting coach. (Reminds me of when the Mets fired my friend Bill Robinson to send a message to whom? the manager? the players?) Cheesy, either way, but Davis' firing highlighted the current make-it-up era. It didn't seem to dawn on the new owner, Steve Cohen, that fans will suss out the scapegoating of Davis. I guess that's how it goes in the hedge fund game. Now the Mets are being "run" by people who were second or third choices. No wonder tempers are fraught.
Plus, the domination by anonymous types in some underground bunker, running statistics through a computer. One result is defensive shifts, changing pitch by pitch, from hieroglyphics placed by the Analytics Crowd on plastic crib sheets, stuck in hip pockets, are confusing fielders.
Next time the mad analytics types are preparing their instructions for players who must react, in split seconds, to baseballs spinning in play, perhaps they could include photos to differentiate between rats (left) and raccoons (right.)
Meantime, fielders still have to deal with baseballs wriggling in play, put there by some new Met who looks like a ZZ Top musician. The human touch. That's our 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.