Random Thoughts From a Very Tense Evening:
I’ve been a huge fan of Jacob deGrom since he came up. He is always smiling in the dugout, connecting with his teammates, the center of things. I love his whippy delivery and his competitiveness, but I didn’t think he could win twice in Chávez Ravine against the pitchers Terry Collins respectfully called “those animals.”
So deGrom did win. He pitched six of the gutsiest innings you will ever see, getting by with whatever he could find in the tool box. It was one of the great games ever pitched by a Met because of what was at stake.
Four of their regulars remained in their slumps, more or less, but Travis d’Arnaud contributed a run-scoring fly, and Lucas Duda wangled a walk that led to Daniel Murphy’s alert steal of an unoccupied third base.
Murphy had an epic game. I’ve been reading he’s gone after this season because his contract is up. Maybe his defensive liabilities make him an American League player. I’ve used the word “klutz.” But I got an email Friday morning from my Yankee pal Big Al comparing Murphy to Billy Martin and Hank Bauer from the era that still gives me nightmares.
Murphy is a gamer. Keep him. Let him grow old, ungracefully. Let Cespedes make his nine figures elsewhere. He is 30 and does not know how to make contact with runners in scoring position.
I forgot that Terry Collins was a coach with Jim Leyland in 1992, when the Pittsburgh Pirates lost a heart-breaker to the Braves, as two more stars were packed and ready to leave. End of an era that never quite happened. On Friday night, Collins out-managed Don Mattingly. Donnie Baseball was a better hitter. Irrelevant now.
We had four people connected via smart phones Thursday night – CA upstate listening to the radio, Laura in town, me in front of the tube, and a nameless bloke keeping track at work. I probably should scrub some of the comments we made when Collins brought in Familia to start the eighth. The big gentle guy got six outs. I take it all back about totally breaking patterns for a closer. When it was over, CA texted: “Pipe Down!” How did she know?
Never thought the Mets could win out there, but they did. Today is a rest day.
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.