I have not missed baseball nearly as much as I would have thought. Or maybe I should say I have missed baseball desperately, but I’ve also missed seeing friends, going to restaurants, and so many other aspects of life, that the absence of baseball hasn’t stood out to the degree I would have expected.
So maybe it’s understandable that my most severe pang of sadness at the absence came Monday night, when I was doing an extremely ordinary thing, and it hit me that Mike Shannon was not on the radio.
Here in Iowa, we have been given the all-clear to resume youth baseball, and we are - under an umbrella of new guidelines. During the Little League season, I spend 3-4 nights a week at our ballpark. But Monday night was the first time I’ve been out there this year, and as we loaded the gear back into the steaming hot car and I turned the key, I realized Mike Shannon’s voice was not on the other end.
It never really occurred to me before, but this is one of those moments that I’ve just always taken for granted that baseball would be there. After a few hours of coaching or working the concession stand or whatever, I’d hop in my car and it would be about the 5th inning. I could check the score on my phone, but it’s more fun to drive home with the Moonman riding shotgun, listen to him riff on whatever’s going on, and try to figure out how the game is going. It’s not always easy. Often, Mike is still on about some unique moment that happened an inning or two before. “John, you ever seen a ball do that?”
Typically, I’ll listen to the game on the drive home, then settle in front of the TV to watch with my own eyes, while shitposting to a group text or Cardinals Twitter.
I spend more time during the season - way more time - watching the games on Fox Sports Midwest, with Danny Mac and the rotating crew, than I do listening to the radio. But here in the absence of baseball, I’m finding that it’s the radio I miss even more.
Why is that? I think I miss baseball in my subconscious even more than I miss it in my conscious mind.
I spend an inordinate amount of my waking life focused on Cardinals baseball. Even outside of the games themselves, I read several articles a day, listen to a variety of podcasts, pour over stats and history, and write a weekly piece at Viva El Birdos Dot Com. Truth be told: The amount of time I focus on Cardinals Baseball likely is to the detriment of my professional and personal life.
But it’s the background presence of baseball that feels like an emptiness to me - the reassurance that it’s always there and Mike Shannon is describing the action. I miss baseball more when I’m driving home, or firing up the grill, or washing dishes.
And now that life is just starting to resume the tiniest semblance of normal, I’m feeling that absence more acutely. In a world where everything was upside-down, the lack of baseball hardly made a ripple. But as the trappings of day-to-day life return, it’s almost overwhelming to realize that baseball’s not there.
Where are you missing baseball most?