There isn’t much for me to say that you haven’t heard already. The baseball team this blog is centered around hasn’t been able to play baseball and won’t be able to for who knows how long.
I normally write my weekly post on Monday night or Tuesday morning, but I like to at least decide what I’ll write about on Sunday. There have been a lot of Sundays without many ideas lately, and by lately I mean the past five months. (As an aside, the more time I spend here, the more respect I have for everybody else on the masthead and their commitment to the site.)
For the first however long stretch of my VEB tenure, I wrote almost exclusively nerd pieces. I would meander through the endless realms of data on FanGraphs, Baseball Savant, Brooks Baseball, and the like before eventually stumbling upon something with enough substance for a full article. Selfishly, I’ve always found something oddly therapeutic about working on those types of posts. It’s such an organic process to find something in those numbers that catches your eye and to try to make sense of what you unearthed. It’s like discovering a puzzle you didn’t even know existed and then attempting to put all the pieces together.
But now when I go to create a new spreadsheet, I’ve found myself lacking that same spark. This was the case even in the brief period before the Cardinals’ season went off the rails, maybe because I knew it wasn’t going to last. Major League Baseball—at least under the initial return to play conditions—was never going to last. On the off chance it did, it was going to resemble a mere sketch of the league as we know it and/or raise serious ethical questions regarding an entertainment industry’s practices during a pandemic.
If you’ve frequented VEB for a while, you’ve probably noticed my increasing tendency to write about subjects that don’t always directly relate to on-field action. A major reason why is the nature of baseball in 2020 and what has been occurring around the game. For example, the issue of labor relations was at the core of the news cycle during the season restart negotiations. What I believe to be a larger factor, however, is personal experiences of mine that have shaped my outlook on sports, broader society, and the relationship between the two.
Some of you view the world similarly to how I do. Some of you do not. I know this because I read every single comment on my posts. I make a point of checking back throughout the week to catch any late comments that sneak in. I admittedly don’t respond very often, but if you’ve said it, I’ve read it. I mention this not to come off as Big Brother, but to say that I’ve seen some very thought-provoking discussions in the land of replies, recs, and flags.
I can’t be the only one whose interactions on this site are synonymous with their Cardinals fandom as a whole. I’ve seen the VEB community melt down over, to be fair, some of the dumbest double switches I’ve ever witnessed. I’ve seen us collectively freak out over every rumor during the Giancarlo Stanton trade...circus...thing. But I’ve seen something different these past couple weeks: our readers and writers appear more lost and despondent than I’ve ever seen. This is understandable for obvious reasons, but concerns me nonetheless. Perhaps I’m just a natural worrier, but I’ve grown to care about you all more than me-from-three-years-ago ever thought I could care about a group of people I’ve never actually met.
This entire situation has affected our mental health in all sorts of ways. I also think it’s worth stating the obvious, which is the fact that our readership is predominantly males. The vast majority of us are men whose favorite pastime, sports, embodies “peak masculinity” like few other institutions do. And if there’s one thing people like us tend to avoid, it’s open conversations about our social and emotional well-being.
No matter who you are, you know you better than I do, of course. What I can tell you is that you should take care of yourself and not feel a need to be secretive about how you’re doing. Feel free to use the comment section to talk about whatever you want to talk about, whether that be baseball-related or otherwise. My email address and Twitter account are always accessible from the masthead page. If nothing else, know that I’m grateful for you all giving me an excuse every week to fetch my earbuds and dive into an activity I find enjoyment in.
Thanks for reading,