Just as opening day was going to provide some semblance of normalcy, the coronavirus once again shut things down.
For the second straight year, I am being denied the right to celebrate a rite of spring in my unique way. In seasons past, I’d return to Nats Park for the MLB official beginning of the season and shout “Happy New Year!” to my heart’s content, or at least until the security people dragged me away.
But it wasn’t New Year’s. At least not yet.
2020 had been feeble. The Boys of Summer didn’t get started until summer, and with its fan props made of paper-mâché and canned sound, the game was pretty boring. But in 2021 the diamond was supposed to resume its luster. The call of “play ball” would be heard throughout the land.
But not here in Washington. Several members of the Washington Nationals tested positive for Covid at the last minute, and opening day was postponed.
Of all the agonies the pandemic has brought to billions of people worldwide, this has to be considered a triviality when compared with lives lost, economic turmoil, interruptions in our lives — including the education of our children — and all the isolation from friends and loved ones.
Baseball is a metaphor for recovery now that we’re emerging as the vaccines rescue us. But it is a mixed metaphor at best. Only a trickle of fans would be allowed to watch in person, and they did. But it was just a smattering, and at unaffordable prices. But the season is really fragile as we found out here in D.C.
The availability of the vaccines is certainly worthy of celebration, now that we have a government in place with the expertise to calm the logistical chaos and get things rolling methodically from the labs to our arms, bringing us to the point that we can think about a return to “normal” life.
Still, this massive crisis has been with us more than a year now. As tragic as this story has been, once you get past the morbid statistics, you find gaps.
One of the biggest tests of journalism is how you fill the column space and airtime on a relatively slow day. All too many publications and networks rely on “what the future holds” — speculative reporting on what our lives will be like when we emerge from this tortuous hibernation. It gets repetitious, with strikingly similar pieces where the only change is from future to present tense.
How will the technology we relied on affect us as we grope our way to the “new normal”? How will the ripple tsunamis affect the very character of urban office space now that we’ve learned we can operate from our homes? How will that affect businesses like restaurants, entertainment, education techniques, the very way we socialize?


The truth is we don’t know. For all those analyses, we usually fail to learn much from history, starting with the competence of our leaders. In spite of the disaster we just went through in the Trump years, with all its mistakes, we will waste little time electing another carnival barker with a gift of gab and simple-minded gimmicks. We will once again overlook direction from the true medical wise women and men, and opt for the modern-day snake oil salespeople.
We are witnessing it even now. Our premature carelessness has seen us abandon commonsense face masks and other precautions, even those who wore them in the first place. Meaning, for all of the vaccine advances, we have gotten reckless enough that another surge threatens. So perhaps “Happy New Year” is premature. Particularly with enough politicians lurking around, attempting to steal our democracy in a race to the racist pre-Jackie Robinson years. But they have stumbled as sports organizations have actually decided they are parts of their communities.
Georgia Republicans jammed through voter suppression laws, taking us back to Jim Crow times. But this time, there was such a ruckus and so many corporations put out the message that bigotry is no longer fashionable that usually timid MLB has pulled this year’s All-Star game from Atlanta.
So maybe it’s New Years after all. Or at least a start.

© 2021 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Sy


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 3, 2021 5:22 AM.

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