Now that we really need him, here’s Brandon Bailey clocking 90 for the first time in a long, long while:
It’s been over 450 days since I last threw a baseball 90 mph. It’s been exactly 310 days since my 2nd Tommy John surgery. Words can’t describe how much this moment meant to me. But I’m just getting started… @Reds @LouisvilleBats #TommyJohn #Rehab pic.twitter.com/vjC95Zrhuu
— Brandon Bailey (@BBailey_19) January 2, 2022
You might wonder why I mention that we really need him now that Opening Day is postponed at best and the season is surely stunted to whatever number of games the owners deem an acceptable almost-loss. But this is exactly when we need Brandon Bailey doing his work in a drab indoor facility, then crouching to the ground so as to better concentrate on fighting off tears. For this, much more than the MLB, is baseball.
It’s easy to conflate the two and difficult to separate the fact that one drives the other. There is no Major League Baseball without baseball. And yet, nothing on this Earth has done more in the past decade to harm baseball than Major League Baseball.
The moment in this video, from the windup to the embrace, is baseball. Socially Meaningful hashtags is not baseball. An eternally extended middle finger to the entirety of the fanbase is not baseball. Sizing resources to payroll or payroll to resources or whatever eternal winter of non-playoff we’re currently relegated to is not baseball.
But a 27-year-old athlete regaining what he had once lost: That is baseball.
If you’re not familiar with Brandon yet, he is not necessarily new to the family, but we haven’t seen him on the mound in a Reds uniform yet because of his injuries and rehab. No one has any idea when we might see him in our dugout, but that’s not Brandon’s fault. Brandon just wants you to know he can throw 90+, and he didn’t get there by staring at Instagram 12 hours a day.
The road to Great American Ball Park runs first through this grey building, then Louisville. Then we wait. We all wait. It’s difficult to wait, especially when the waiting is so patently unnecessary. The MLB doesn’t care how long we wait, because it knows we’ll come back. A recent social media stir rippled through the city when the Reds sent out emails letting us know who was in the pool for Opening Day tickets; some were out, but most were in, and they were ready to stream through the gates and the beer stands just as though none of this has taken place.
Of course we are. Of course we are. We’re 27-year-old Brandon throwing truly hard on flat ground for the first time in over a year: We want out of this echoey grey existence. We just want baseball, and Major League Baseball knows just we want baseball, and so it will push us and push us and push us until we push back by not pushing the turnstyles. But who’s going to stay in a dark bar or a customer service line when it’s 75 degrees and the river is low? You know gosh darn freaking-frack well that we’re not. We know it, the owners know it, and the MLB knows it. So here we all sit.
But fortunately, now that we really need him, here’s Brandon with the radar gun. It’s the MLB’s fault that teams tend to measure his worth by the numbers it registered, but it is baseball’s glory that he was moved to tears when he saw what they were.