For the first time in over a decade, I watched a ball game from the stands. Now that I don’t spend my time in the press box, it seemed like something a semi-retired bloke should do,
I made a few discoveries, or re-discoveries:
1. It is expensive. My kid brother Chris and his wife CA were coming down from upstate and invited me to the Mets-Yankee game Sunday night at the stadium I prefer to call New Shea (what with my disdain for banks.)
I never buy tickets for sports events because I work at them. I was horrified to learn that seats in Section 136 in left field cost $110 each. Oh, my goodness. I would have felt all right if Chris had spent, say, $45 per ticket. Later, I heard that the Mets were discounting thousands of tickets to fill up the park for the Dickey-Sabathia matchup. How do people manage to attend these events? (I did my best to combat high concessions prices by bringing in some delicious summer rolls and baguettes from my favorite little Vietnamese place in Bayside.)
2. It is noisy. The sound system bombarded us with witless noise from batting practice to the last out – denying fans a chance to talk baseball.
3. It is competitive. The Yankee fans were at least as loud as the Mets fans, reminding me of the 2000 World Series when Yankee fans gobbled up tickets on the open market and outcheered the Mets fans (Of course, they had more to cheer about in those three games in Shea.)
4. It can be funny. Four Yankee fans behind me (three of them female) were cheering for each Yankee home run. Two Mets fans (I think mother and daughter, in orange shirts) took offense.
Do you have to be so noisy? The Mets mother asked, good-humoredly, maybe.
We’re your guests, one Yankee woman retorted nicely, maybe. You should be more polite.
They settled into a détente. After Cano’s homer put the Yankees ahead, one Yankee female offered a large box of fries to the Mets fan.
I don’t want Yankee fries, the Mets mother sniffed. They have 27 more grams of sodium.
Several rows of fans laughed.
Nice one, the Yankee woman replied with a true New Yawkuh appreciation of a zinger.
5. The game is different from left field. My brother told me A-Rod had blasted shots far over our section in batting practice, but A-Rod came nowhere close when it counted. We were looking over the shoulders of Scott Hairston and Raul Ibanez, as they glided toward fly balls in their direction. Easy plays – for calm professionals, that is. Even from this far away, we could appreciate defense by Cano and Teixeira, and we could reconstruct a bad exchange near first between Turner and Dickey. But home plate was at the far end of our range. It was hard to see pitches cross home plate, hard to follow the umpire’s signal.
6. The ritual is reassuring. Directly in front of us, a boy in a yarmulke sat next to his dad, while capturing images of the game on his electronic tablet. We who have grown children may have felt a little nostalgic, even jealous, over watching this rite of passage.
7. Being in the crowd can be downright enjoyable. With rain pushing most fans back under the eaves, we huddled in place for the bottom of the ninth. We could hear the crack as Ike Davis lashed a drive to right for the final out. Mets and Yankees fans mingled soddenly, politely, on the down staircases. The three of us had survivors’ pride from getting through the sensory wars. I could see doing this again sometime -- if we start saving now.
(Your comments on the inner life in the stands are appreciated.)
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.