I don’t even know what to say anymore about how the Reds have been functioning post-All Star Game outside of the apparent fact that they’re not actually acting as a contending baseball team. They are orbiting the concept of being a contending baseball team.
You know orbiting? The kids know orbiting. People orbit when they’re dragging the murky, barnacled floor of the dating pool. A space person like me used to love the idea of orbiting; orbiting was a good thing. It was a goal in itself and it could also act as a stage for greater missions. Not so in the social media realm, I have learned.
Apparently what was once soul-crushing in out-of-office hours with emails, voice messages, AIM pings, and answering machines is now soul-crushing all the time, at all hours of the day, and in countless forms of digital ignoring.
I thought it was exhausting trying to figure out the call-back/email-back/appear in the chat room timing game, but that was when the only form of attention was exchanging actual words. Now there are likes and tags and gifs and emojis (a smiley face with heart eyes means something entirely different than a smiley face surrounded by hearts, and mixing up the two is akin to the social life-ending faux pas of turning your back on the Queen.)
The worst, most un-navigable part of it is the orbiting. Orbiting is letting your social media ignoring partner know that you looked at one of their Instagram stories, or saw thier TikTok profile, but are still choosing to never actually interact in any way. The orbiter knows you’re there, and doesn’t necessarily mind letting you know that they know you know they’re there, but there’s no need to actually communicate in words or anything.
If an orbiter is really feeling like splashing some attention on the target, a like will be magnanimously distributed upon a post or comment. Actually commenting on a public post oneself is tantamount to, in the British Regency era, asking to speak to a single woman’s father, applying for permission to speak to the young lady in a room containing less than 400 other people. Sending the person a direct message (“sliding into the DM’s,” I am told is the correct terminology) is practically a public wedding announcement. Why use words when we can just ignore each other in new and horrible silent ways?
So this is where the Reds are: They’re orbiting. They’re not quite bad enough to just bump team by team down the standings, but nor are they good enough to maintain every element necessary to win a baseball game all at the same time for any significant stretch of the calendar.
Apparently being destroyed by the Cubs is necessary so they didn’t seem too forward. Then they orbited first place, and then the Nationals came to town and oh we might as well get swept by them because we don’t want to seem too eager to win the division, do we? Then here are the Marlins and we can’t quite decide if we like the Wild Card berth or, you know, like like the idea of playing in October, so let’s blow one game while managing to hang on to another one.
It is exhausting. Zoomers are exhausting, and trying to figure out what they’re trying to achieve or even say is also exhausting.
Why do something boring like go wire-to-wire anyway? Where’s the challenge in that? Better to orbit like Gemini astronauts for weeks on end and see what comes of it. But– we’re at least off the ground, which is much more than we can say for the rest of the last 30 years.