Forget all the home runs Chipper Jones hit against the Mets – 49 going into Saturday -- or the way Met fans used to chant “Larry….Larry….” as if that could slow him down.
Jones showed his class in 2000 after a teammate, John Rocker, was quoted in Sports Illustrated, spewing vile sentiments about New York plus “gays, people with AIDS, welfare mothers, people who speak foreign languages in the United States, minorities and other urban types,” as I put it.
Plus, the dope denigrated our multi-ethnic No. 7 elevated line that runs from midtown Manhattan to the Mets’ neighborhood in Queens. Anybody who doesn’t like the No. 7 line doesn’t really like America.
Rocker also spotted the writer, Jeff Pearlman, in the Braves’ clubhouse and said, "This isn't over between us.''
The Braves were in the middle of their great run. They did not need this distraction. And their best regular player, Chipper Jones, stood in front of his locker and addressed the problem.
''If there is a chemistry problem on this club, they've always been able to cut out the cancer,'' Jones said. He knew exactly what he was saying. I was there; I can attest that it happened just that way.
I don’t know that I ever heard an active player use that word about a teammate – not in measured tones, to a knot of reporters, on the record, for national consumption.
Jones probably had been assured the Braves were going to unload Rocker. He is a white guy from rural Florida, and he made the point for Brian Jordan, an African-American former N.F.L. player, now a teammate, and everyone else: this is not condoned on this team, in this town.
It took the Braves until June 22, 2001, to trade Rocker, but Jones had reinforced the Braves’ image as a team worthy of being beamed into homes all over America. He earned all the ovations in recent days, and he earned the respect the Mets showed Friday night as they clogged their dugout, attending his farewell ceremony at Turner Field.
Chipper Jones’ legacy is more than home runs: it’s decency.
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.