This could have been about Farley’s foray into the neighbor’s yard, but I didn’t witness that, so I’m not going to write it. No, it’s about a different kind of escape.
Two days ago would have been opening day for my favorite baseball team, the Baltimore Orioles. I know this is going to seem trivial, but I’m really missing sports, and I’m particularly missing the start of baseball season. I know that we are practicing looking for silver linings, and I could certainly find some in this case. For the Orioles, the longer that the start of the season gets postponed, the longer they remain tied for first place in the standings — and generally listed in first position, thanks to alphabetical order. The longer the season is postponed, the more work I get done.
But, that doesn’t carry me very far. I miss the optimism of opening day. I missed the anticipation of opening day. I miss seeing the deep green field, hearing announcers whose voices I’ve missed for six months. I miss a smooth swing, a biting curve, and a shoestring catch.
I think the thing I miss the most is just the escape. The mostly mindless passage of time. Well, not mindless, because there’s a lot of thinking in baseball, but mindless in the sense that in the end it’s all really of no consequence. Everything now seems of great consequence. Sure, that escape sometimes brings guilt, as I put off a work task or a yard task to wander into the world of bloop singles and Baltimore chops, or those new-fangled sabermetric stats, like launch angles and WARs (wins above replacement, I know what it stands for, but don’t ask me to explain it).
I know that the world of sports can also be infuriating. I’m often disgusted by the mentality of owners, the commercialism of “the product,” and most recently the blatant cheating of some teams, but still, I’m programmed to expect baseball to start at the end of March, and to associate it with spring and rebirth. This year it’s missing, and it’s ironic that it’s a year when we most need escape and reminders of rebirth.
I’ve gotten more work done, because I had no hockey to watch all month, no spring training to read about in the blogs, no opening day to race home for. I sit in my man cave, and what? I write? I am writing right now, as I face my TV with no temptation to turn it on. I’m angled toward an Orioles jersey, signed baseballs, and my Orioles Mr. Potato Head, my orange foam finger, my vintage pennant, and my carved image of Camden Yards, but none of those things tell me to turn on the game or head to MLB.com. No. They’re silent.
It’s a weird time. It is slowly dawning on me that baseball was my way of shutting off my too-busy mind. It was my way of detaching from worries and pretending that I could just play. It was my recess. I’m realizing that I need to find new ways to separate from work and politics and a runaway virus. I know that there are people who will be missing much more than baseball. I know that I shouldn’t complain. I know that I will certainly find other ways to occupy myself. I think I’m just realizing that baseball was doing more for me than I had understood.
Now, I’m off to wrestle with my puppy, who has no concept of virus, corruption, or social distancing, and definitely no worries about what he’s missing.