If you were looking for some perspective on this woe-wave of a Reds season, welcome to the time of year when baseball season gets itself interrupted by hurricanes. I grew up in Ohio, which could occasionally gin up a nice tornado or two, perhaps a blizzard if you’re lucky, but–it’s Ohio. “Extreme” for us is a day without margarine.
Then I ran alway to join the space program, or, more specifically, put my English degree to use by standing at the Kennedy Space Center, pointing at a model of the space shuttle, and informing visitors that “this is the part that makes it go.” When I moved inland to Orlando, my mother said in relief, “Oh, now I don’t have to worry about hurricanes anymore.” This was the cue for like eight of them to aim their eyewalls directly at my apartment.
That year, the five-day forecast routinely looked like this:
THURSDAY: Mostly sunny, chance of afternoon showers
FRIDAY: Early morning fog
SATURDAY: Huge catastrophic world-ending hurricane
SUNDAY: Partly cloudy
We were often in the final full-blown stage of a hurricane phenomenon known as “Screw You, As Opposed To Me.” This manifested when people in one part of the state rooted for a hurricane to slam into another part of the state, or better yet, another state entirely.
The Weather Channel assisted with gigantic Atari graphics explaining storm surge, which consisted of a huge wall of blue completely obliterating rows and rows of Monopoly-sized houses. I always felt a lot better after seeing that, almost as good as when the NBC affiliates sent a Roving Idiot to cover the pending carnage in Cape Canaveral, which was tastefully intercut with Hurricane Floyd footage of the Daytona Beach Pier crinkling up like Tinker Toys.
One time CBS trotted out a therapist to answer viewer questions such as: “I can’t sleep and I’m very anxious. What can I do?” And the therapist said that we should all take sleeping pills and then focus on something besides the storm, such as, and I quote, “cleaning closets.”
The ER doctor she was sitting with added, “You know, I almost hate to say this, but you may want to try a shot of alcohol too.” So if the media had its way, I’d pass each hurricane re-hanging all my tube tops, two-fisting Schnapp’s and Unisol. I’ve had worse Saturday nights.
Affiliates were on the air around the clock. Once the first-string, prime time meteorologists dropped, the second-teamers and weekend anchors were brought in, followed by the Weather Substitutes consisting of the twitchy and the underage, followed by tourists bused in from the “Listen To the Land” exhibit at EPCOT.
I was under the Ohio impression that once the storm passed, we could all move on to complaining about the humidity again. But then I formed definite questions about the manner in which this particular Act of God was conducted. What it truly was consisted of was aftermath–many weeks of handwritten signs at the grocery that looked like this: “We do not have any refrigerated items. NO ICE. No cash back. No debit available. We hope to have more deliveries. No time yet.” One like that was taped to the door of the grocery store down the street for a long, long, time. This, then, was a state of natural anarchy: A total reversion to cash transactions.
That Publix served as my Surreality Barometer. Go ahead: Test your sense of well-being against walking into a grocery store and not finding any groceries. People were driving as far as two hours away in a vain attempt to find ice. The aisles were almost completely trashed. Ore-Ida Steak Fries, gone! Spam, gone! The entire supply of Sociables, gone!
And yet I returned to the grocery, day after day, wandering around the beer section on the expectation that the Frozen Foods Fairy had come along and magically replenished the Cheez-It supply. You know how you open your refrigerator, find nothing edible, then return five minutes later expecting to find the situation somewhat changed? I was doing the refrigerator thing on a scale of 60,000 square feet.
This is what Texas and Florida has been facing and will be facing for quite some time, and that’s for the lucky ones.
Bullpen doesn’t look so bad right now, does it?