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Murphy: If loving baseball in the COVID-19 era is wrong, I don’t want to be right

© Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports


If loving baseball in the COVID-19 era is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

As I write this latest Jock Blog, I had to check my social media news feed to make sure Major League Baseball was still a functioning, playing sport.

That’s how dicey things are.

This week the Phillies announced they are postponing their weekend series with the Blue Jays because a coach and clubhouse attendant tested positive for the CoronaVirus. This news comes days after what can only be called the “Marlins Miasma” — seemingly every member of the Miami Marlins organization, including Derek Jeter’s butler, testing positive for COVID-19.

And so, yes, I know that MLB, trying to play outside a quarantine bubble, is setting itself up for failure. And yes, I know it’s all a house of cards that could come tumbling down as easily as a virus jumps from host to host. And yes, I know the primary motivation for MLB to keep playing despite the odds is the massive lump sum of revenue that comes with network TV covering postseason baseball, and all that we know about money and its roots, etc.

But like I said at the top: I’m not here for your logic or well-reasoned explanations.

Like Seinfeld’s George Costanza, who, when pressed for why he gets up in the morning, feebly responds: “I like the read the Daily News?” . . . I like to watch the ballgame.

You do, too. Yes, I heard you whooping and hollering and getting all those old feelings when Mike Yastrzemski smacked a baseball into McCovey Cove Wednesday night around 9:30 pm. Prior to MLB’s restart, I didn’t hear a whole of you whooping and hollering — unless you counted the 8 pm nightly community howls on our outdoor patios during March, April, May and June.

Baseball’s return has been a huge boon to our national psyche. And yet, true to our national psychosis, it comes with behavior that hasn’t always controlled the factors of a pandemic. Whether because of old habits, or being lost in the moment, or because young people often think they are immune from any harm, baseball players are not always wearing masks in close proximity, they are not avoiding high-fives, they are still violating protocol.

This, of course, is worrisome. This, of course, increases the chances that more than just the Marlins and a few Phillies can contract CoronaVirus.

And that brings me back to checking my social media news feed every 15 minutes. Wait, let me check again: Yes, the Giants-Rangers game is still scheduled for Friday night. Phew.

So my decision is to embrace baseball, flawed plan and all.

Yes, it’s screwed up that the Phillies, Marlins, Nationals and now Blue Jays are sitting on the sidelines. I can’t pretend that it’s not all a mess.

But the overwhelmingly positive feeling of the game is so important to us all. And it can be done with respect to protocol, and to distancing and to safety. The Giants had a meeting on Wednesday with their medical staff about renewing the rigid enforcement of distancing, and you saw it play out in their “social distance walk off” at home plate for Yaz. Hopefully, the Giants can be leaders in a way.

I just think it’s worth it, is all. The nation needs balm. The country is not getting inspiration from anywhere up at the top, so if the game of baseball is a healer, let it be so. Try to play as much baseball as you can, for as long as you can. Try to do it as COVID-aware as you can. Try to lead us somewhat out of the darkness of this pandemic.

As I frequently do in life, I am again taking inspiration from the great American folk genius Charles Schulz, the creator of the comic strip “Peanuts”. In a strip I admire, Linus and Charlie Brown are leaning on a wall. Charlie Brown says in Panel 1: “I used to try to take each day as it came.” In Panel 2: “You know, live one day at a time.” In Panel 3: “My philosophy has changed.” In Panel 4, Charlie Brown leans on his elbow: “I’m down to half-day at a time.”

I hear ya, Chuck. One half-day at a time, we’ll keep seeing if there’s a ballgame tonight.

 

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