Lou Holtz, looking precisely the same as he did in 1995 when I first beheld him, was just on EWTN talking about the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m tired of it,’ he said. “I’m an old man.”
We’re all old men by now. My godson turned 16 in the beginning of April and is still waiting to test for his driver’s license. In terms of compiling disappointment, he is now 179 years old. I’m tired of it, too, and I’m an introvert to the point where I have walked with purposeful speed through office hallways with a file folder under my arm holding nothing other than a paperback novel, then locking myself in the ladies room for several minutes, letting people think what they would think if it bought me a chapter or two to myself. This has got to end.
There’s to be an Opening Day, but no parade; baseball games, but no fans to lay down the beat as the glove smacks and the bat cracks. Teams are piping in crowd noise. It is the ultimate in modern adult infantilization. This is what comes of 30-year-olds slouching around in “I ADULTED TODAY” hoodies. Fake crowd noise.
Listen, this isn’t about masks or lockdown orders or how many kids to drizzle into a classroom (or not.) I’m lasering in on what’s important here: Stop it with the fake crowd noise. That’s the 2020 hill upon which I lay down my life. Fake crowd noise.
Maybe it’s the history minor in me, but I want to know exactly what’s going on inside that ballpark, and what’s going on inside that ballpark isn’t people chatting about the Scoreboard Stumper or how much this helmetfull of nachos cost. It’s silence. If silence is what various city officials want to impose upon what there’s gonna be of this cram-in of a season, let there be silence. Don’t coddle us. We all saw “Tiger King” during quarantine. We’ve been through enough.
Letting silence happen has become a regular 2020 theme with me. Shut up, everybody. I include myself in this statement. Shut up and do your job, even if for the moment that job only involves being a decent human being. Lou, you’re on thin ice too.
When the NHL posted its playoff schedule, it was instantly inundated with complaining fans. At the end of the comment string one finally typed, “It’s hockey. We’ve got hockey again. Shut up.” Baseball fans aren’t particularly known for shutting up, but if we’re forcibly shut up by locked turnstiles, then let the record show it.
So if there are more birds than people roosting in the outer bleacher, mike them up. I want cooing. I refuse to be lulled into thinking beer is for sale in Section 215 when there’s no actual beer for sale. It’s just rude.
Perhaps this is a result of living a virtual life since March– we forget that actual human beings exist beyond a screen, and yell accordingly. Dave Barry just posted a funny picture of himself on Twitter with an Abraham Lincoln statue–outside, in the sun, with all kinds of air in every direction. The overwhelming reaction to this was people screaming at him to put on a mask and stand farther away from the fake Abraham Lincoln.
This is where we are now: Mask-shaming a humor columnist we’ve never met and a fake Abraham Lincoln we’ve also never met. I have a perpetually injured neck from trying to see what the woman on the little screen is telling me when it’s time to exercise. Graduation for thousands of young men and women consisted of sitting in front of a laptop in a mortarboard, good lighting, and underpants. My husband watched half a NASCAR season that existed entirely within a video game. Much as I hate other people, I’m the first to admit I need them to race actual cars, manufacture my body glitter, and shovel up after the foals.
One of the reasons we were desperate for baseball is that baseball is real. It’s a real thing. Men face other men in the face, one on one. It happens every day, or nearly so, and it happens regardless of who’s mad at which politician or health official or company that spends its days selling black beans. We have always had that to count on, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it seems we’re all unraveling a bit without it.
So let’s adult today, shut up, and face this season as it comes–with all its asterisks, DHing, and empty restrooms. It could be worse. It already has been. But now we’ve got baseball again.