Rarely do I make it to Opening Day. In fact, in all the many years I have been on this earth, I had not attended a Cincinnati Reds’ Opening Day until 2015. Rather, my own personal Opening Day usually doesn’t occur until May or well into June. As I wrote a couple of years ago, I have my own special ritual:

“Ritual is my soulmate. It’s familiar. It’s restorative. Downtown approaches. The trip nearing its end, the Lytle Tunnel releases me, and for just a moment my foot goes lightly on the accelerator as I search for the notch in the ballpark—the cutout that reveals the empty seats inside. Seats waiting for their people to inhabit them. Hey, they built it. So, I come.

In the winter, Crosley Terrace grows cold. Then, it comes alive again and I await my turn. More ritual. On my first visit of the season, I always head to the medallion embedded in the concrete floor of the concourse behind home plate. I read the words:

AMERICA’S FIRST PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL TEAM
ESTABLISHED 1869”

Who among us doesn’t wish this nightmare was over? The lost livelihoods. The lost lives. We’re already different now. Like September 11th, we’ll never be the same, never again to live in quite the same way going forward.

But, oh, to gather once more in that familiar cathedral, under an excellent blue canopy of sky, facing that expanse of green once more, to harken back to that less troubled time when our biggest fear was that Aristides Aquino couldn’t sustain his heroic August into the cool September innings.

And yet, I must utter this heresy: I don’t want to see baseball this season.

It’s too risky. Scratch that. It’s insanity. All the medical experts are telling us this will be going on for not just weeks, but months. Bending the curve simply means we spread out the infections so that hospitals can handle the sick. It doesn’t mean it will be over. And that curve isn’t happening all at once. It will surely happen in different places at different times as spring turns into summer.

Playing to empty ballparks won’t eliminate the risk to fans or players. And not just the players and fans. Consider all the support people that it will take to make an abbreviated season happen. I don’t want to see clubhouse people at risk. I don’t want to see the people who cover the game forced to compromise their health and the health of their families so the rest of us can hear the comforting pop of a catcher’s mitt, no matter how much we miss it.

And oh, do we miss it.

No, I want to come to Opening Day in 2021 with a clear heart. I want to know we took care of each other—that we took care of all those that bring us this great game year-after-year. Today, we’re all Steve McQueen in The Great Escape. We’re Captain Hilts, sitting in solitary, stoically fighting the monotony with a wall, a ball, and a mitt. Waiting.

 

To paraphrase Hilts, I haven’t seen GABP yet, from the ground or from the air, but I plan on doing both when this war is over.

And I know the first thing I will do next year when I hear that familiar turnstile click, when I am back home. I’ll place my two feet on that medallion just inside the main gate. I’ll give thanks. And when the first pitch is thrown, like you, friend, I’ll roar.

26 Responses

  1. The cycle

    ……………………….RELAX…………………..Be safe don’t be scared to live your life …….take precautions……don’t lick door handles……everyone has got their number if this it so be it………Baseball cant start soon enough this stratmatic recap stinks.

  2. Steve

    I strongly disagree. We should be playing all sports from baseball, to college football, to even the no fun league. We shut down the world because of a virus, and within a month we need to get back to our normal lives, in this great country. The United States of America.

    • Frank The Tank

      Getting back to our normal lives within a month is going to kill a lot of people. It’s a terrible idea that just about everyone in charge of a country around the planet has agreed upon.

      • Steve

        No I was born in Louisville. Lived in Florida for 12 years and just moved to California. Our economy is crashing over a virus. Those with weakened immune system should stay indoors for a few more months, while the rest of us should continue supporting businesses and live our normal lives.

      • Frank The Tank

        The economy is going to crash a whole lot harder when you’re piling up the dead bodies because you think this is only effecting the immunocompromised.

      • Steve Schoenbaechler

        Yeah, Steve (not me), I can’t agree with you here. Our economy is crashing because people are dying. The “economy” you call it would mean more people are going to catch this and die. 300,000,000+ Americans. So far, the death rate it about 3%. So, 9,000,000 gone from the economy. That doesn’t even include the millions who are going to be hospitalized, like now, taking up bedspace we don’t even have.

        You’re playing checkers when the game is chess, Steve. You need to look past your “economy” argument and realize, if people go back to work, to get the economy running again, even more people are going to die, our healthcare system it going to become even more clogged than it is, etc. It’s going to put even more of a strain on our economy.

        Our job is easy. Just stay home.

    • asinghoff1

      This is a very ignorant comment Steve. You must live in Florida.

    • Steve Schoenbaechler

      While I do agree with you, we can’t until we have some kind of medicine for this thing. This isn’t just “the flu”.

      It’s something like Trump telling us he would like to see us in church on Easter. Sure, everyone would love to see that. . .but safely. If it isn’t safe, that’s one of the last places we need to be. We can simply join a video of the Easter mass. The church is the people, not the building.

      When can we go back? As far as I’m concerned, when the professionals, who in this case are the doctors, say it’s alright to go back.

  3. Mark Moore

    I’m in with that plan. I’d also like to plan out a trip to Goodyear next spring. It’s going to take time to find the “new normal” this year and we may only get half a season (if that). This thing is far beyond any seasonal illness and we have to treat it as such.

    Until then, we “gather” here and continue to interact. It’s what we have and I appreciate it.

  4. RedsFan11

    There is no right answer on how to do things.

    We are already confined to our homes through April, most likely through May at the minimum. Imagine the whole summer. The longer Americans are restricted the more the economy suffers, the more people lose their livelihoods.

    With flattening the curve “herd immunity” is not nearly achieved as fast. Who’s to say this doesn’t spark up again next Jan/Feb and we go through the whole process again?

    • Steve Schoenbaechler

      The one right answer right now is, just stay home so the medical people can do their job.

      The economy will be strained just as much and even moreso if everyone was to be put back to work too early. Because then more people would get sick, more people would die, our healthcare systems would get even more backlogged, meaning more people would even die, meaning less people to work, meaning more backlog in the companies, meaning the economy can’t get moving.

      Right now, we have people who can do their jobs. All we need to do is just stay home and let the medical people do their jobs.

      From what I’ve heard, there are jobs out there to be had. It just takes a little research to find where they are, mostly in healthcare.

    • vegastypo

      I suspect this WILL come back from time to time, maybe in the fall or early next year. By next year, we perhaps will have a fast-tracked vaccine that works. Even by autumn, the nation might have some time to regroup and get adequate supplies of needed equipment.

      Not sure if your comment was as a reason to ‘play ball’ now and let the chips fall where they may, but if so, I strongly disagree.

  5. Bred

    I have a family member who works with patients in an acute pulmonary ICU care unit. She is being exposed daily to this vicious virus. When the people who refuse to isolate or claim this is a hoax or nothing more than the flu contract this virus, are they going to seek help and put the doctors, nurses and the entire hospital staff in danger to save their life? ( A custodian at her hospital died last week from the virus.) When they get sick enough, then I bet they will want
    the help they don’t deserve.

    Doug has built a small business and very special community here and at RML. I am concerned for his future and feel since we live a part of our lives here if we want it to continue to do so we need to keep visiting the sites several times a day, click on adds, and if possible financially become a patron on his Patreon.com site. If we don’t, like many small business’s he may be forced to shut down. Then when baseball returns where will we go to chat, agree, and disagree. It is up to us to support him!

    • Doug Gray

      Thanks Bred.

      I’m certainly concerned about the business side of all of this. Traffic is way, way down – which isn’t unexpected given what’s going on. There’s no baseball, we’re all far more concerned with a lot of other things in our lives right now, so there’s only so much “content” that we can come up with that we didn’t spent all winter already writing about. But advertising rates are flatlining, too. So we’re making far less money per view, and also getting far fewer views.

  6. Scott C

    I want baseball back as much as the next guy. I want the economy to get back up and running but to not take this virus seriously is a big mistake. Every person we come into contact with is a potential carrier. We might be a carrier. And then every person they come into contact with is exposed. My wife works in an essential business so they have to be open but then we worry about her being exposed. We are both relatively healthy but also both over 65. For someone to say just quarantine the ones with poor immune systems and let the rest of us get back to work is both callous and reckless.

    Good article Richard, a year without baseball would be tough but it is not the end of the world. I feel more for those who are not working both in baseball and out of baseball because of the virus.

  7. TR

    Public health must come first. Let’s not mix it with other factors that can extend the pandemic. We must follow the recommendations of the experts to get the Covid-19 virus under control. Then normalcy will return to society led by employment.

  8. RedNat

    We have made this commitment to defeat this virus. We can not go back now. Sports will resume when a vaccine is developed and widely distributed. It is a very small virus so it will be difficult to develop one. Similar to poliovirus. But i believe in the next few years one will be developed. Then and only then will we watch the reds again. It is a tough pill to swallow but we have to do it.

    • Steve Schoenbaechler

      Pretty much agreed. All we can do is listen to the medical professionals.

      Hey, I don’t like it. I will even say I hate it. But, if I don’t follow through, if we don’t follow through, then we are only going to make things worse. More people will die. More people will catch it. Our healthcare systems will be even more strained. All because we simply couldn’t stay home.

      If people need jobs, I have heard there are jobs out there to get. I believe in the healthcare industry right now. But, also, food service, food preparation, other “essential” job area.

      • Steve

        No way 3% of population will perish from this virus. Those numbers are totally skewed from a hidden agenda. There is infection fatality rate and case fatality rate. 100 people infected with covid19, ten severely so they go to hospital where they test positive. The other 90 are not tested at all. One patient of the 10 dies the other 99 overall, including those not tested, SURVIVE. The infection fatality rate would be 1% while the case fatality rate would be 10%. Thats how these media outlets skew numbers

        Also what about people with preexisting conditions who are infected with covid19 and die. They could’ve had weakened immune system, asthma, heart problems, or other serious problems before they caught the virus. It’s wrong to blame covid19 for all of these deaths, just like when older person perishes from pneumonia or the flu. Again the underlying cause of death is not the virus.

        And you say the economy will be fine once the curve flattens. If we wait months like many say, people will die of homicides, starvation, and suicides, because our economy will totally collapse and people will give up hope. Are we gonna do this every year during a virus?

      • RedNat

        Steve ,I do agree that we are going overboard a bit to try to stop the virus. but my point is the cat is already out of the bag. we can’t put it back in there in a few months when the infection levels have stabilized. We are a stubborn nation and once we put our mind into something we will not stop. I agree, more people will die from poverty, alcoholism, drug abuse, other diseases, than the actual virus itself, ( by a large number ) I believe but we are committed to stopping it now. no turning back.

      • vegastypo

        Steve, if you think 3% is too high, what if it’s only 2%. What’s your acceptable percentage here? 2? 1.5 or 1? These are people’s lives we’re talking about.

      • Steve

        Vegastypo, any death is tragic, but we need to live our lives. Plus how many of these cases was covid19 the sole cause of death. Why did Durant, Gobert, and Mitchell survive?

      • vegastypo

        You’re avoiding the question. We are obviously endangering more lives if we try to live our lives normally. So what price are you willing to pay? 10,000? 50,000? 100,000? 250,000? Unlimited? As long as life goes on normally?

  9. renbutler

    Good grief, we have no idea how things will look come June, and the best guesses from people who REALLY know how these things work is that we will be well past the peak by June.

    There’s absolutely NO reason at this point to assume or suggest the season should not be played.

    People need to choose their media sources more carefully. Better yet, turn off the media and just look at the raw data.

    I’m not making a prediction, but it’s more likely we have baseball by July 4th than the season won’t be played at all. And they’re not going to do it unless it’s safe to do so.

    Good grief. It’s so tiring seeing the overreaction. It’s a serious situation, but not “2020 is canceled” level of seriousness.

    • vegastypo

      I guess what concerns me is that even after the ‘peak,’ there will still be infections and/or casualties, so at what point would we want to risk some sick or contagious individuals among groups of tens of thousands of people?

      And as Doug noted above, even playing games without fans means making sure that ANYBODY who has any contact with the game or its participants must be cleared and quarantined.