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The Real World

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League Championship Series - Washington Nationals v St Louis Cardinals - Game Two Photo by Scott Kane/Getty Images

You know, ever since the first rumblings began about seasons being cancelled, other seasons postponed, leagues shutting down, gatherings being outlawed, I’ve been trying to think of a way to write about it. I’m not going to lie; it’s been a struggle.

You see, as much as I have made a habit, maybe even a career, out of writing about things which are only tangentially related to baseball in these digital pages, the fact is this is a baseball blog (the word blog seems so antiquated at this point, I sort of love it now), and baseball is our stock in trade here. It is my stock in trade here, even if wistful stories of old girlfriends and car radios and dead grandfathers are the primary seasoning with which I adorn my creations.

And there is no baseball. There is no baseball here, there is no baseball there, there is no baseball anywhere. Nor will there be anytime soon. The real world has come and ruined summer. Not this summer, specifically; any summer. All summers. Every summer everywhere. Spring will not bring rebirth, no glorious red and white crowds filling the streets of St. Louis to celebrate the return of our shared civic obsession. Summer will suffer the shadow of this cold, indifferent spring of social distancing, isolation undertaken paradoxically in the spirit of cooperative protection.

I will admit, I only really want my baseball back. I try not to be selfish, to think of others and think of the greater good and how important this all is. But at the core of it all, I want my sport. I want my baseball. I want the thing I watch to escape from the rest of life back. The older I get, the easier it is for me to understand selfishness. I get up every day and go to work, and while I do not hate my job, I will not claim to particularly enjoy it, either. I do not have a particularly odious commute, but it’s still half an hour each way of St. Louis highway traffic. It could be worse, certainly, but the real world is not exactly a source of inspiration to me.

You know what I do really like, though? Baseball. I assume I don’t have to state that, considering I’ve devoted a dozen years of my life to writing about the sport at this point, but just in case anyone out there doubts my feelings on the subject, I’ll say it anyhow. Baseball is pretty okay.

And now it’s not there. For good reason, yes, but just at the moment when the world seems to be coming apart at the seams, and it would be really great to have that thing you enjoy most as a distraction, turns out that thing you want is exactly the sort of thing we need to limit. We would be mired in the true doldrums of late spring training right now if things were normal, complaining about meaningless games and meaningless stats, obsessing over the few remaining roster spot competitions, and mostly just demanding time hurry up and get us where we want to go faster. If things were normal.

Instead, we have nothing. We have uncertainty. We have social distancing and no dining out and an onrushing recession and no baseball anytime soon. Things are dark. And I understand selfishness. I understand denial. I cannot condone it, but I understand it. More than anything right now, I would love to be complaining about how long spring training is, and how it really seems like an antiquated thing in this era of perpetual best shape of his lifeness and contracts that make that dedication entirely worth it. I would love for things to be normal right now, and for baseball to be so nearly back, and for late March to be the biggest obstacle facing us all.

I don’t know how to write about baseball with no baseball. I will write draft previews, I suppose, though with no baseball happening even amongst the amateur ranks they may be slightly less interesting than usual, due to the limited opportunities for stocks to rise or fall. I have a few ideas that have been kicking around in the back of my head for more historically-focused articles I’d like to work on. But there is no joy in Mudville, and no baseball about which to write. I will do the best I can, as will, I’m certain, my colleagues here. But in the end, there is nothing any of us can do to make things all better. The real world doesn’t work that way.

I miss baseball. So very, very much. Will I appreciate it more when it returns? Maybe. Maybe not. The real world also has a fantastic ability to inflict us with amnesia when it wishes, and god willing, I’ll be complaining a year from now about how long spring training is, and how tired I am of meaningless games, and I will not recall how much I would pay right now to see some minor league guy standing on third base wearing a number barely still in double digits. They say you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. I say life is all about ignoring how much we rely on what we have, how badly we need it. If we had to face, every single day, how reliant we are on all those things we maybe take for granted, I doubt any of us would find the strength to get out of bed considering how heavy the burden would be.

I write about baseball, and will attempt to continue to do so. And hopefully baseball doesn’t stay gone too long. I need it not to. I suspect many of you feel the same.