Baseball has always been a harbinger.
The promise of summer,. Of sunshine. Of warm nights dripping with the air that seemed to be the life’s blood of our game. The electricity surging through the crowds that seemed to power the lights as well as the players.
The warm air will come, as will the light from 93 million miles away. The seasons need no harbinger to herald their arrival. But the usual things that also come – the shouts of children, the gatherings around food and drink, the ballgames – they may not come. So even as the mercury rises, there will still be a coldness within us.
We sit here, socially distant while trying to not be emotionally distant, on the last day of March. This is the time of year when the crack of the bat and the pop of a fastball into a glove are sounds that permeate our consciousness. Instead, they all sit alone, mourning the loss of life that should be making these brick, concrete and steel structures all come to life themselves, each certainly with their own heartbeat.
Even Marlins Park.
Here in Chicago, Wrigley Field – the “Friendly Confines” – have become the Lonely Confines. Guaranteed Rate Park reminds us that nothing is guaranteed.
Now, the global pandemic that is raging like a fire across our planet certainly makes the concerns of baseball a trivial matter. Thousands of people are dying on a daily basis. Those who aren’t affected yet will be; if they aren’t infected themselves, someone they know will be. In fact, the entire world will be like New York in late 2001, when everyone saw each other, and the first question everyone asked each other was, “Is everyone OK?”
And sadly, like it was then, sometimes the answer will not be pleasant. We’ll have a lot of feelings that we’ll need to go through. Empathy for those who have lost loved ones, thankfulness if you and yours got through it, guilt for feeling thankful. Trust me, you’ll get them all.
But it’s not accidental that every preacher at every funeral reads that part of the Bible with “I am the resurrection of life…” Things will end, and things will begin anew. And again, these ballparks will pulsate with the excitement of games.
Right now, our world is a very serious place. But we will, in time, be able to once again be able to immerse ourselves in the trivial.
And when that day comes, hopefully we can play two.
Stay safe out there.