After credibly imitating a .500 team for much of the season, the pretense fell out from under us against the Cardinals this past week. A back-to-back doubleheader was a brutally efficient way to decrease winning percentage while increasing anguish. It was forty eight hours of losing and almost-losing. It was a Hurricane Dorian of a weekend– an unending barrage of wind and rain and giving up runs in the ninth.

I grew up having faced zero hurricanes and then, upon moving to Florida, experienced five in a three-month span. What wears you down in a hurricane isn’t just the rain or just the wind or the occasional tornado– it’s all of them, all the time, for days and days. In my first hurricane, I spent approximately 36 hour watching the same small tree outside my apartment bend slightly to the left. Sometimes, for variety, I sat in the bathtub when the tornado sires when off. Then the TV blinked off, then the phone lines went down, which was annoying, but offset by the opportunity to read all day and roast marshmallows over Sterno. The pleasantness of this was immediately offset by the discovery that the Publix down the street had somehow lost its ability to magically make food reappear on its shelves.

When I drove to a friend’s house to get a cell phone signal, it was a tour of destruction. A McDonald’s M laid bare of its fiberglass, the metal form beneath squashed over to one side. A giant tree uprooted. Yard waste and yard waste and yard waste. It was the weight of so much wind and rain over time that did the damage, even though we in Orlando never experienced actual hurricane conditions. The battering was a matter of sustained and concentrated attrition.

Hurricanes are frustrating in their own right and terrifying in the hovering and the maybes:  It could turn, it could barrel straight for us. Dorian is slapping right at where I used to live, the Space Coast. Recently a different hurricane wiped out the apartment where I used to live and another replaced it. The leasing company had just finished rolling out the awnings.

So went this season. Not just one game, or one player, or one baserunning decision.  A whole season of missed opportunities, botched saves, and lack of offense.  Nine or ten baseball games with a one-run loss are recoverable; over thirty are not. We may not notice it much when we’re in the moment, but a destruction tour of the season reveals the squished M of it all.

The questions we had at the beginning of the season (“Get back to me after Memorial Day. Get back to me after the All-Star break”) have been answered. We don’t like most of the answers, but at least we know there are giant felled trees and not just rumors of them. The winds weren’t quite as damaging as we feared, but they still left behind stripped shelves and a wearying sense of the need to start over yet again.

13 Responses

  1. RedNat

    yes Mary Beth the last sentence is so true. We were hoping the rebuild from 2014-2019 was over and we finally will have some sunny days. But recently it looks like we are in the same position as we were 5 years ago. Is it time to admit that the rebuild failed and it is time to “start from scratch”?

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I read a comment that said that this should be considered Year 1 of the rebuild. I… don’t know how I feel if that’s actually the case.

  2. Scott C

    Anyone who has lived through a hurricane, and I have only been through one back in 2003 that was Isabel which made landfall on the NC Outer Banks but did its greatest damage in Virginia. I felt we were pretty fortunate. Just had to pick up a lot of limbs and go without electricity for about 28 hours and eat a lot of peanut butter, plus we got a free case of bottled water. One thing I observed was there was a lot of wind and rain and then suddenly for a few hours we had a really peaceful hour or two as the eye passed over, but then the winds picked back up and the rain was worse. Sort of like the Reds season, really bad to begin with a lull of almost good times in the middle and then it got bad again.
    Agin great metaphor Mary Beth!

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      thanks 🙂 Man I didn’t get any bottled water for even ONE of the hurricanes!

  3. SultanofSwaff

    September is going to be one long destruction tour. It would seem there is little for the front office to hang their hat on. Last september is was positive momentum. Now that narrative is used up, what do they have? Sorry, but after 5 years it’s going to take more than a barrage of Aquino home runs.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Waiting for the hurricane is one of the worst parts of the whole thing. And now we’re in this weird wait for the end of the season, even though disappointing baseball is always much better than no baseball.

  4. Eric

    “We don’t like most of the answers, but at least we know there are giant felled trees and not just rumors of them.”

    And now…it’s time to get out the chainsaws!

    Yeah, unfortunately we got smacked up by a 1-8 hailstorm before the sustained winds of offense-less-ness and lightning strikes of…welp…

    Anyhow, we’d have to go to Louisville to see if the shelves are totally stripped; judging by the Bats’ 59-81 record, I’d say probably so.

    2020’s Continuing Rebuild has been brought to you by: #KeepGettingThePitching, #GetTheCatcher, #GetTheShortStop and by the number 9.

    Reporting LIVE from Raleigh/Durham…

    • Mary Beth Ellis


    • Eric

      You’re on – Next time you’re in Raleigh/Durham, or when I’m in…I’m sure you’ve mentioned it at some point…we’ll do just that!

  5. Mary Beth Ellis

    You’re always so nice to me.
    It helps to make up for the absolute nighmare of an NYY-LAD WS.

  6. Drew Overholser

    The comparison of the utter destruction of a hurricane that will, in the final count, take the lives of hundreds if not thousands of people to the end of a losing baseball season is sickening. Your metaphor is not only so off the mark, but utterly disrespectful to the people of the Bahamas and others who will suffer from this storm. We should be grateful for a diversion like the Reds, winners or not. To suggest we are somehow, even remotely, experiencing a disaster like Dorian as fans of a baseball team is absurd. Your writing is often entertaining and even, sometimes, intriguing. You failed miserably this time.

    p.s. I will gladly send you some bottled water if it gets your hands off the keyboard

    • Eric

      1.) No one is making light of the deaths of thousands of people.

      2.) Lighten up, Francis.

      • Drew Overholser

        I suppose I am Pscho for thinking the post was in poor taste. Or maybe my opinions are not respected because I have not earned my Stripes yet on this site. Any way, thanks for straightening me out Sarge.