(NB: The following was written before the Mets had triple bad news on Friday. Well, I said it was frivolous. GV.)
It seems frivolous to be talking about the freaking Mets with all this other stuff going on in the world, but that’s where I am, mostly to preserve my own sanity.
It is very reassuring to watch a prodigal son, José Reyes, and a folk hero, Wilmer Flores, duel for playing time.
Everybody loves a prodigal son (unless, of course, Reyes has lost his edge) and everybody loves a grown man who cries.
“The Ballad of Weeping Wilmer,” David Vecsey wrote in a text message.
Write it, I said. Maybe he still will.
The Mets may have upgraded themselves once again in mid-season, by bringing in Reyes and apparently stimulating Flores to take better hacks.
Upgrades. Everybody needs a Yoenis Céspedes to come along, like last year.
Now that I think about it, the Mets have upgraded their infield defense in at least three of the four positions since last season – Asdrubal Cabrera (where has this guy been?) doesn’t look spectacular at shortstop, but…he is…and clearly a great teammate in the dugout, too.
Neal Walker is consummately professional at second base. And James Loney is so smooth at first base, making plays unseen since Keith Hernandez. When Lucas Duda is healthy, I still want Loney at first base.
With all due respect to Daniel Murphy, the newest Met-killer, having a great year for the Nationals, it had really grown tiresome watching him improvise near second base. Entire games can turn on a ground ball being handled competently. And it is possible that Reyes at third base could be an upgrade to the impaired David Wright.
Have you ever seen a club upgrade at least three quarters of the infield like that?
Then there is Wilmer Flores, who cried last year when he was almost traded, and was in a slump a few weeks ago, but now he is hacking – The Peepul’s Cherce, as we once called Dixie Walker in Brooklyn.
As David Vecsey pointed out, Flores forms a trio of legendary No. 4s in Met history, along with Ron Swoboda and Lenny Dykstra. Don’t forget blast-from-the-past Duke Snider, passing through in 1963.
Weeping Wilmer, energized, is not exactly like Céspedes arriving last summer as proof the Mets were spending money, were serious. But we all need upgrades.
If the Mets could spring for Céspedes before the deadline, other upgrades are possible.
Before it is too late -- for all of us -- the Republicans could pull a yooge deal at their convention and bring in a rational and accomplished candidate, Michael Bloomberg.
And the Democrats could bring in a charismatic and courant candidate, Elizabeth Warren.
Think Céspedes. Think big. Think upgrades.
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.