There’s baseball on my TV.
It’s exhibition ball, last night and tonight, and the real stuff doesn’t happen until Thursday. But Yaz hit a home run to lead off the game, Tony Kemp got the start last night for the A’s, Antoan Richardson is coaching first and making way for the first woman to coach in the bigs, and the Vandy Boys value system – love your country, support your teammates, and never forget there are other people in the world than yourself – are on display for the Bay and the nation.
I didn’t realize how much I needed this until Yaz hit that dinger. I was walking out of the same liquor store today that I visited in March to make sure I had my essentials laid in at the outset of shelter in place, and when I walked out of there into a cool gray March afternoon I don’t know what I expected. But it probably wasn’t that we’d be here in July, in the same situation, with no inkling of when or how this might be over. We wasted the lockdown, mostly off the back of stupid national leadership and selfish locals, and now matters are worse. The only consolation is that while the raw numbers are bad in California, the percentages locally are better than in the South, and we still have room to absorb the damage. For now.
As I was coming home today with my Stiegl Radler and Mexican Cokes, I thought about eighteen years ago, and what it was like to live in post-9/11 DC while people who weren’t within 500 miles that day whined about how the Constitution is not a suicide pact and we were all doomed if we didn’t stop and frisk brown people or allow the feds to do anything to anybody. And now those same people are outraged that they might be asked to wear a mask into Wal-Mart. Though they’re still all for the cops brutalizing brown people.
Having baseball back feels like a throwback to March. We’re leaning into the weirdness and the novelty, commiserating about the differences and the struggled and just learning to live with the fact that this is not normal service, and normal service as we knew it may not be restored, and if it is it won’t be for a long time. There’s a PSA about wearing your mask at every commercial break and the players are giving high elbow bumps in the dugout. As welcome as it is to have the national pastime back, it’s also a clear and present reminder that we’re a long way from business as usual.
And so we embark on the experiment. Sixty games. Every win or loss effectively count triple this year. Get swept in the opening series and you might never have time to recover. Lose five in a row and you might as well pack it in. Ten wins will definitely get you a Cy Young this year, and somebody hitting an asterisk-laden .400 is not out of the question. It’s going to be an abbreviated sprint to the finish with everything at stake, and the smallest error could have huge consequences, so don’t screw it up.
Are we still talking about baseball?