Covid Metamorphoses #49 – Buy Me Some Peanuts And Covid, Jack

Back before the pandemic shut it down back in March, I had really been looking forward to this baseball season. Not only were my beloved San Diego Padres going to field a halfway decent team for the first time in a decade, they had finally ditched those boring-ass blue uniforms and brought back (an even better version) of the brown uniforms they had back when I was a kid in the late 80s, back when you could ride the bus from El Cajon to the stadium for $.50 and buy a general admission ticket for $3.50 (and then you could sit wherever you wanted, because the Padres usually sucked and nobody went to games). After my friends and I reached driving age, we ditched school for every afternoon home game during the season. Whenever I hear this song, I can still picture the Padres taking batting practice and shagging flies while the Jumbotron shows the standings and league leaders.

So when I tell you I can’t watch the baseball season currently taking place, understand that it comes from a place of disappointment and yearning.

Because to me, the baseball season that began last week is an abomination. It represents everything wrong with out nation’s response to the pandemic, right down to the ownership treating its workforce like their lives are expendable. When half the Florida Marlins tested positive for the virus this week, the team announced they would get more players if they had to. This would mean bringing in non-union players. In business terms, this means players contracting the virus is a win-win (the ballpark employees aren’t even important enough to factor into the decision). Seen in that light, this baseball season feels more like the result of a cruel cost-benefit analysis. There is nothing remotely safe, or even ethical about it. It’s one more example of people in this country trying to make something happen, simply because they want it to happen, without taking precautions for how the virus spreads. The virus doesn’t care what you want to do–go shopping, go to school, play baseball–and to pretend otherwise is foolish. To force others to pretend otherwise, as baseball owners are doing, so you can make the money you want to is just cruel.

And of course the announcers aren’t at the game. They’re broadcasting remotely, because that’s how safe it is to be inside a fucking baseball stadium right now. Sorry about your luck, cameramen. Guess you picked the wrong career.

And then there’s the games themselves. MLB knew it would be weird for people to watch a game with no fans. So they added cardboard pictures of fans, and added artificial crowd noise to the broadcasts. Hey, that isn’t weird at all! It’s just an ugly manifestation of our dystopic times that’s impossible to ignore, and what could be more soothing than that! Problem solved!

By the way, the fact that the crowd noise at Fenway Park doesn’t include simulated booing and groaning feels even weirder. Because the Red Sox, my other beloved team (hey, I moved around a lot as a kid),  fucking suck this year. Thankfully, they’ve won four World Series since 2004. Back before 2004, when the team went 86 years without winning a World Series, people in New England always said, “I just want to see them win one time before I die.” I’m glad the Sox won all those championships, because it would be really weird this year to hear people saying, “I just want to see them win the World Series one time before the team dies.”

What’s on TV right now isn’t baseball. It’s a bizarre facsimile. It’s a simulated clone that can’t stop glitching. It feels like baseball the way pornography feels like sex, and about as satisfying.

The Celtics start playing basketball tomorrow night. Unlike baseball teams, NBA players aren’t traveling. They’re all sequestered in a bubble in Orlando, Florida. I hope it will be easier to watch, but I am not optimistic. Anyone optimistic about anything at all in 2020 just hasn’t been paying attention.

About ScottCreney

Scott Creney lives in Athens, Georgia. He is the author of "Dear Al-Qaeda: Letters to the World’s Most Notorious Terror Organiztion".
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