Tag Archives: Opening Day

Lightning on MLB Opening Day Reminds us That We are Still in the Middle of a Storm

After months of negotiations, Major League Baseball (MLB) started the 2020 season that they were bound and determined to have despite cases of COVID-19 surging from coast to coast, and more specifically surging within several cities that have MLB teams.

While I was watching the Opening Day game Thursday night, between the Washington Nationals and New York Yankees, an eerie sight of potential foretelling took place to remind us all that this is not a season like the others.

No, I am not talking about Dr. Anthony Fauci’s “just a bit outside” first pitch. I can only hope that I am in as good of shape as he is when I turn 79. While, Dr. Fauci is not the best at throwing pitches, thank goodness for all of us that he is adapt at not sugar-coating things and giving us the facts we need in the middle of a COVID-19 pandemic.

The eerie moment occurred during an on-air interview with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred when the Washington D.C. skyline was filled with lightning. Manfred was unaware of the light show since it happened behind him, but he became aware of it when the thunder reached his ears.

Lightning, and related rain, led to the first game of the 2020 MLB season being called three innings early. At the time, I thought that it was fitting that a long-delayed season would have its first game end that way.
Photo R. Anderson

The lightning, and related rain, led to the first game of the 2020 MLB season being called three innings early. At the time, I thought that it was fitting that a long-delayed season would have its first game end that way.

By the time I was watching the Los Angeles Dodgers game, I had forgotten about the lightning. Instead, I was making preparations to write about the wayward Toronto Blue Jays finally finding safe harbor after being told that they could not play in Toronto or Pittsburgh due to concerns related to COVID-19 spread.

While the Baltimore Orioles offered to share their nest at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, a Triple A Ballpark within the Blue Jays organization in Buffalo, New York was chosen as their home for the 60 game in 66 days season; despite the players noting their desire to only play in an MLB Ballpark.

With my sights set on chronicling the plight of the Blue Jays in mind, I sat down at my computer in the Gigaplex and was ready to let the words fly from my fingers onto the screen. That was until the giant thunder clap briefly knocked out the power, and took out the Wi-Fi and cable connections.

The storm lasted all of 60 seconds, and included only that single bolt of lightning and related thunder. As quickly as the sky turned dark as night, the sun returned. It was as if the storm had never even been there aside from the lack of Wi-Fi and cable to remind me.

As I was resetting all of the Gigaplex clocks, suddenly the lightning in Washington, D.C. the night before was back in my mind. I realized that the lightning was a metaphor for the season of baseball in the middle of COVID-19. Much like Commissioner Rob Manfred, I did not see the lightning because my back was turned, but I heard the thunder.

The Texas Gulf Coast was under a Tropical Storm watch for much of the day, but when the storm track shifted south of me it became an out of sight out of mind event. I went about my day as if there was not a storm churning in the Gulf of Mexico with the possibility of rain bands stretching to my side of Texas.

So, when that lone lightning bolt did arrive, and leave as quickly as it popped up, there was no one more surprised than me. I have lived through many storms, and as far as I can recall I have never seen a storm of a single lightning bolt but as my mother said, “it only takes one.”

COVID-19 is a lot like lightning. We can try to turn our backs on it and play baseball, or go out to eat, or do whatever else we used to do when the world was open, but even if we have our backs turned and ignore it, the thunder will remind us of its presence.

While we cannot fully control the strength and ferocity of lightning, there are some pretty easy steps that we can take to starve the COVID-19 virus of the fuel it needs to spread. Thinking of these mitigation steps as medical lightning rods if you will.

Wearing masks, washing hands, socially distancing, and avoiding large gatherings are such simple steps to stop the spread. Sadly, despite the simplicity of these things, there are still people who feel they are immune to the CVOID-19 virus, or that they would rather die free than be forced to wear a freedom stealing mask.

I have said it before, and it bears saying again, you know what steals a person’s freedom? Being dead from the COVID-19 virus because they refused to wear a mask, and just had to go to that house party, or whatever other gathering was deemed so important.

The Baltimore Orioles offered to share their nest at Oriole Park at Camden Yards with the Toronto Blue Jays. Ultimately, a Triple A Ballpark in Buffalo, New York was chosen as their home for the 60 game in 66 days season Time will tell whether the Blue Jays, and the other 29-MLB teams, are able to get through a season played in the middle of a global health crisis.
Photo R. Anderson

There are a growing number of stories of younger people infecting their grandparents, and in some cases leading to the death of their loved ones.

That is certainly something you would not want to put in the annual Christmas letter, “Hello friends, this year I was selfish and went to a house party in the middle of a pandemic, and as a result Grandpa is dead.”

Personally, I do not want to risk the guilt of thinking that my actions of needing to socialize led to someone else’s death. But if someone feels that they absolutely have to go out, I hope they remember how thunder and lightning work. By the time you hear the thunder, the damage has already been done by the lightning.

The MLB season was greeted by lightning on Opening Night. Time will tell whether the pandemic’s lightning of cases among the players, or hot spots where games are to be played, allow for the full season to take place.

MLB really wants to be able to unfurl the proverbial “Mission Accomplished” banner after crowning a 2020 World Series Champion.

I just hope when the dust settles it was all worth it, and they aren’t having to write about anyone dying as a result of being hellbent on playing baseball in a time of COVID-19. From where I am sitting right now, the risks of trying to crisscross the country far outweigh any benefits.

That is not to say all is doom and gloom. The COVID-19 storm will pass and there can be joy in Mudville once again. One of the best things about a thunder storm, is the double rainbow that is left behind to remind us that storms are temporary and there are better days ahead.

Of course, those better days will only come if we all do our part. So just wear a mask, and practice social distancing. Laying off an off speed pitch is hard, wearing a mask is easy.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I am off to ponder why there are so many songs about rainbows.

Copyright 2020 R. Anderson

I’ve Got a Fever and the Prescription is Baseball, and More Cowbell

In a little under two weeks the 2013 Major League Baseball season will officially begin with the prime-time Easter Sunday showdown between the Texas Rangers and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas.

Minute Maid Park will be the site of the first game of the 2013 Major League Baseball season. Photo R Anderson
Minute Maid Park will be the site of the first game of the 2013 Major League Baseball season.
Photo R Anderson

Ever since I bought my ticket to that game I have found myself with a little spring in my step knowing that soon the games will count for real.

I guess it is not to say that Spring Training does not count but there is certainly a difference between the validity of a Spring Training record versus a regular season record.

Another factor that has me ready for the start of the season is the historic aspect of being present for not only the first game of the season but also the first game for the Astros in the American League.

So with all of the excitement one might even say I have a fever for baseball.

The fever got me thinking about a classic Saturday Night Live skit involving Christopher Walken. In the skit Walken plays a music producer who has a fever and the only cure is more cowbell.

Throughout the skit Will Ferrell runs around like a man possessed banging his cowbell all over the sound stage to the dismay of his band mates.

With the baseball season approaching I am in the mood for more cowbell. Photo R. Anderson
With the baseball season approaching I am in the mood for more cowbell.
Photo R. Anderson

If you have never watched the skit I highly recommended you do so if for no other reason than to watch one of Jimmy Fallon’s many times that he broke character and laughed during a skit.

Inspired by the skit, teams soon made sure that cowbells were available in the various gift shops for fans to make sure they get into the spirit.

Of the ballparks that I have visited I have to say that Tropicana Filed, the home of the Tampa Bay Rays, is the most cowbell frenzied one.

While the Rays often rank near the bottom each year in terms of attendance one cannot deny that the fans who are there definitely make some noise and that noise is often fueled from cowbells.

What can I say there is just something fun about thousands of one’s closet friends clanging on the cowbell in unison.

Fred Schneider of the rock band The B-52's is definitely someone who enjoys more cowbell has demonstrated during a concert at Tropicana field. Photo R. Anderson
Fred Schneider of the rock band The B-52’s is definitely someone who enjoys more cowbell as demonstrated during a concert at Tropicana field.
Photo R. Anderson

But like everything in life there is a time and a place for the cowbell.

The most appropriate times to ring the cowbell are when a pitcher has two strikes on an opposing batter, the home team player reaches base or scores a run, and of course whenever one is prompted to do so by the stadium announcer or visual cues.

Of course another time for cowbell in the ballpark is when the B-52s are in concert there. That was the case during my first visit to Tropicana Field. For those unfamiliar with the band, they do enjoy their cowbell as well.

So hopefully the thoughts of baseball and cowbells have you pumped for the start of the season as well.

Now if you’ll excuse I need to make sure my cowbell is still in tune. And remember don’t fear the cowbell.

Copyright 2013 R Anderson