Life In The Time Of Pandemic

A historian at one of the nearby universities wrote an article this week suggesting that we all keep diaries of this unprecedented time.

Write it all down.

Life In The Time Of Pandemic, I guess.

Where has he been? Pandemic 2020 is going to be the most documented event in the history of mankind. (Peoplekind.)

Where were you when the wash-your-hands edict came? When the don’t-touch-your-face came? When the toilet-paper-hysteria came? When the ban on gatherings of 1,000 … 500 … 50 … 10 came? When today came? I know. Twitter and Facebook and Instagram told me.

There seems to be an ever-increasing number of cat photos on my feeds. Just to break up the latest round of bad news, I guess. So, doing my part, here’s Zuzu …

(I am not gloating because extroverts are freaking out about this stay-at-home thing. But, I admit, there is a smug-but-not-gloating satisfaction. Now you know how it is for an introvert like me when I’m feeling pressured to go to one of your big parties. Different thing. Same gnawing discomfort.)

“Hey! What’s Going On? Where’d Everybody Go?”

I had a dream last night that I went online and this site was gone. WordPress was gone. The Baseball Bloggess was gone.

Just like baseball. Gone.

A week ago, that would have been just a weird dream. Last night it woke me up. Week ago, weird dream. Last night, nightmare.

A Week Ago, This Was My Happy Place.

Yesterday was a beautiful day in Central Virginia – sunshine’y, in the 60s. We should have been at the University of Virginia baseball game. Instead, I was learning how to order “to-go” groceries – including a lifetime supply of jalapeño peppers – from an app.

Lifetime supply? Is that a pandemic’s lifetime? Or, a real lifetime? Or, is that now the same thing?

The woman who brought the groceries to our car – keeping an appropriate distance – told us that a couple drove down from Baltimore because they heard that our grocery store – 125 miles away – had toilet paper. By the time they arrived, it was gone.

A five-hour round trip for … nothing.

We unloaded our groceries, including the lifetime supply of jalapeños, on the porch and disinfected things with a wipe before we brought them into the house.

Because that’s what we have been told to do.

(Do you think those people from Baltimore stopped at the Rest Area on I-66 and emptied all the toilet paper dispensers as they drove back home? Or, do you think someone else got there first?)

Even This Little Tree That’s Blooming Along Our Pasture Fence Line Looks Sad And Alone. 

Mark Shields and David Brooks were on PBS NewsHour last Friday discussing leadership in the time of crisis. It’s worth a watch, although much has changed since then. Every day feels like a month … a year.

 

Here’s the thing that stayed with me …

David Brooks said he tried to find out more about how people coped with the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918, but very little was available:

“It left no trace on the national culture.”

He determined that little is available because people didn’t document it.

Because they were ashamed of how they behaved. Especially once the fear set in.

Leaving no trace is not an option today. We’re writing it all down. We’re filming it. We’re documenting every single second of it.

A hundred years from now, what are people going to think of us?

This Is Not My “Happy Place”

I shut everything down.

When things shut down around me in the past few days, I knew that mitigating a fast-spreading virus like COVID-19 would mean more than just shuttering all sports, museums, concerts, and big things.

It meant even little businesses like mine should shut down, too.

So, I closed my Yoga studio, cancelled my massage clients. And, here I sit.

Because, isn’t this what it means to “do your part”?

But, if the bars and restaurants and movie theaters are still open and people are still going, am I just wasting my time?

As I said to some of my clients, “I don’t want to see you on Monday and then have to call you on Wednesday and say, ‘Hey! Guess what I just tested positive for?’”

If closing is the right thing to do, why do I feel so terrible about this?

OK, that helped to say all that.

Now that you’ve kindly read through my “stress dump,” we, of course, need to get to the nut of things …

This virus has taken away baseball. It has taken away sports. It has taken away my “Happy Place.” Maybe your “Happy Place,” too.

I have no back-up “Happy Place.”

On Tuesday afternoon – playing hooky – I sat in the stands at the University of Virginia’s Davenport Field in our luxurious new season seats that look straight through home plate and right down the third-base line.

©The Baseball Bloggess

Freshman Max Cotier, on third and thinking about maybe, just maybe, stealing home. He didn’t steal, but he did score. (See, I told you … great seats!)

Virginia beat UMass-Lowell on Tuesday afternoon 24-5.

When it seemed clear that the game would be a major blow-out … and, you know, blow-outs and batting around in multiple innings can take some time (ultimately, three hours and 32 minutes) … we thought about leaving. It was getting late. Continue reading

And, No One Ever Cheated

Photo: Kaboompics via Pexels.com

If you remember real hard, you’ll remember.

A moment when life took place above your head.

A summer picnic with mom and dad and all the people from dad’s work, I don’t really know how many.

A lot.

There were hamburgers and hot dogs and jello pops and grownups who got drunk.

And, cold sodas in metal coolers and we’d steal the ice and throw it at each other.

And, each year, a tug of war between the men that everybody waited for.

And after that, down in a mowed field, there was baseball and we children would sit on a hillside and watch our fathers play.

And, no one ever cheated.

And, it never rained on Saturdays.

And, everything was perfect.

Because, my memory say it’s so.

© The Baseball Bloggess, 2019

The Best Baseball Words of 2019

Dear Holiday Revelers & Readers,

Did you really expect me to thoughtfully paw through an entire decade in my New Year’s wrap-up?

I’m running on a cup of coffee here. We’ll be lucky if I can remember back to January.

But, that doesn’t mean I haven’t collected some special things – 2019 things – for you.

Reading is one of my favorite things. It’s like the easiest hobby in the world. It’s why I don’t have a fitbit – I’d rather be reading than marching around in circles trying to “get my steps in.”

And, I’d rather be writing. To you.

And, while I’m delighted … honored … and, to be honest, a little surprised … that you stop by to read my words from time to time …  (Wait, do I owe you money? Is that why you’re here?) … I’m even more delighted to send you off with a pocketful of links to other writers who have written good stuff this year.

Even if baseball’s not your thing (insert bewildered, sorta sad, but mostly just bemused emoji face here), if you like words, sweetly strung together like the innings of a no hitter, you’ll like these words. I’m sure of it.

Sorry, increasingly feeble, laid-off-half-its-staff, soon-to-be-a-monthly Sports Illustrated, you don’t make my list this year.

But these did …Bitmoji Image Continue reading

Mom, Babe Ruth Came To Thanksgiving Dinner Again.

(Here’s a Thanksgiving story for you … )

November 28, 2019

Dear Mom,

I told him not to, but Andy brought out that damn baseball again and set it on the table before dinner.

He did it while I was in the kitchen trying to keep the turkey from drying out. (You have to tell me again … I brined it for days. I set an alarm and basted it every 15 minutes when it was in the oven, just like you said. My hand is numb from all the basting. That’s not permanent, is it?)

Andy was threatening to deep fry again. He’s going to set the neighborhood on fire with that turkey deep fryer. So, I went out to the garage covered it in dish soap and the kids’ school paste last week. (Thanks for the idea.) I blamed the neighbor kids. Halloween prank, I said. It saved Thanksgiving, but he’ll have it cleaned up before Christmas unless I figure out how to make it disappear for good.

I told Andy this year we needed a peaceful Thanksgiving. Leave the baseball alone. The thing is disgusting – it smells of dead mouse. (If we all die of the plague, you’ll know why.)

“But, it’s tradition,” Andy says.

I can’t even grab the ball off the table because my hand is still numb from all the turkey basting. (Not permanent, right?)

It’s too late, anyway. There’s the knock at the door.

The knock that comes as soon as the Thanksgiving meal is set out. As soon as the turkey is carved, the potatoes mashed, and the Tofurkey is on a plate for Lily, who has suddenly decided she’s going vegan this year.

“Don’t answer it.” I say that every year. I might as well be talking to the cat. Lily and Sam hear the knock,  sit up straight, eyes lighting up. Sam yells, “YESSSS!” and Andy smiles because he thinks he’s raised them right.

Right enough to know you always answer the door on Thanksgiving when the baseball that smells like a dead mouse is sitting on the Thanksgiving table.

Even when I say, “Don’t answer it.” Because we all know who it is.

It’s Babe Ruth.

Who’s going to believe that Babe Ruth comes to our house every Thanksgiving, when he’s been dead for 70 years? Continue reading

Whatever.

My dad never said “I love you.”

Not to me, anyway.

There was a time when dads, as a rule, didn’t say “I love you” to their children. That was just the way things were done.

It’s not like I didn’t know he loved me.

Us.

My dad taught me to love reading and basketball. He taught me that the best beer must be properly chilled and the best practical jokes must be properly executed. (My practical jokes would make my dad proud.)

My dad taught me to parallel park by handing me the driver’s handbook with written instructions, setting up two sawhorses in the yard, and pulling the massive old grain truck up beside them. “There. Park it between those saw horses. You won’t hurt anything and once you can parallel park the grain truck, you’ll be able to parallel park anything.” Then he left. (I think he just got into his tractor and drove back out into the field.)

He left me alone to figure it out.

Continue reading

Because That’s What Moms Do

Sometimes after a long day and work has weighed heavily on me, I’ll look into a mirror and see my mother looking back. Not the bright, young, bewitching mom that I remember most, but the older, tired mother, made haggard by years of hard work and an illness that should have, predictably, killed her in her forties, but didn’t.

My mom was much stronger, much tougher, much more focused than I am, and there are many times that I will say, sometimes out loud, “Mom, why couldn’t you have given me that tough gene of yours?”

My mom was, at her core, a private and quiet woman and she wouldn’t be happy at all to know that I have written about her illnesses and struggles on here.

But, she would be glad to know I still write.

Because, my mom supported everything I chose to do … every direction I wandered in, no matter how weird and how awkward. Even when my dad disapproved, my mom trusted me.

That’s what moms do, right? Continue reading

Chris Davis Gets A Hit …

When I was young, but not so young that I didn’t know better, but, still, decades ago, I backed my mom’s beloved Chevy Suburban through the garage door.

It may not be the most embarrassing thing I’ve done in my life, but it is the one that I can think of right now.

It was not a good day. The electric garage door was mid-open when, in a hurry, I backed through it, wedging the door against the top of the car and the garage ceiling, mangling the door opener gears that were still grinding away, and bending the track. I had crushed things so tightly together that I could not back out or in without destroying the frame of the garage or taking the top of the Suburban clean off.

It took the better part of an afternoon to peel everything apart.

It was not inexpensive.

Amazingly … amazingly, then and amazingly, today … my parents didn’t get mad.  Well, not mad on the outside anyway. Accidents happen, they figured, and no one got hurt.

(If you knew my parents, you would know that this was not their usual reaction to such things.)

Embed from Getty Images

 

This brings me to the Baltimore Orioles Chris Davis who has spent many embarrassing moments lately not hitting a baseball in front of thousands of fans who expect more from a highly paid professional athlete. Continue reading

Bryce Harper’s Big Payday Got Me Thinking …

Do you remember the first time you got paid for work? Not a weekly allowance for washing the dishes, not the handful of ones from the neighbors for babysitting their kids (in a house filled with brazen mice who hid under the sofa in the daytime but came out after dark. Wait. That’s another story.)

Not those stuff-the-coins-in-your-pocket-not-really-a-job jobs, but a real job.

For me, it was Kmart.

I was Number 29. “Number 29 to the registers. Number 29.” My ears perked up like a puppy hearing car wheels in the drive whenever I heard that over the loudspeaker. They always called me first. Always. Because I loved being Number 29. And, I would race the entire length of the store and have my register open before the manager could call a second time. I loved being needed.

It was only for a year, maybe not quite that, from my senior year in high school until I left for college.

Courtesy Devils Lake Daily Journal, via Creative Commons.

It closed last year.

I still remember that first pay envelope. I kept it for a long time in a folder of important things. (Important things that my mother went through one day and threw out. Wait. That’s another story.) Continue reading

Turn It Off.

“More than 100 million people will watch this year’s Super Bowl. If you’re going to be one of them, and you care about the players on the team you’re rooting for, then don’t fall for the fantasy notion that fancy new helmets are going to protect their brains. Instead, support changes to the game that will truly protect players.” ~ Usha Lee McFarling

You knew I wouldn’t let Super Bowl Sunday pass by without my annual reminder that football is a vile, brutal, and unacceptably dangerous game. Also, stupid.

High-Tech Helmets Won’t Solve The NFL’s Concussion Problem

After the number of concussions in the NFL spiked dramatically in 2017, the number during this past season dropped by nearly one-quarter.

My favorite part of this story, written on NFL.com, is that the NFL was “startled” by the spike in concussions in 2017.

Really? That startled you? Because it didn’t surprise any of us regular people who have even the slightest understanding of what happens when your head is slammed into, say, the ground, with the weight of 300-pound lineman on top of you.

The NFL attributes some of the drop in 2018 to “advanced helmets.” And, they may be right, but when your game is still suffering hundreds of concussions each season, I’m pretty sure your “advanced helmets” aren’t advanced enough.

Or, as Pulitzer Pulitizer Prize-winning science writer Usha Lee McFarling wrote in the Los Angeles Times on Friday:

“No helmet, unless one is invented that can be inserted directly into the skull, can prevent concussions.” Continue reading