They actually made it to Opening Day.
It’s so hard to remember clearly everything – anything? – from the last four months, so you never know how much of your memory you’re inventing on the fly. But I’m pretty sure I went through a daily sine wave of confidence about today arriving. Some days I was sure it would happen eventually. Other days I was making hasty preparations for a cancelled season. Some days I was doing both in the same afternoon.
So I can’t fairly tell you that I “never thought this day would come” or I “always thought we’d get here.” I thought lots of things, every day, often simultaneously. This is a weird, and hard, and confusing time.
Similarly, I can’t tell you with my whole heart that I feel *only* happiness that Opening Day is here. Yes, I *largely* feel happiness, and yes I’ll *mostly* be focusing on straight-up baseball for this season. But how can there not be at least some part of me that remains concerned about a pandemic that is clearly not even close to under control in our country? It leaves me concerned about what could still happen at some point in this season, and, even more so, concerned about whether baseball’s return will help more than hurt. I think it can overall be a good, safe, helpful thing for mental health, for jobs, and for messaging. But I can’t know that. No one can.
Opening Day 2020 is less an exultation of pure triumph, and more a checkpoint of cautious hope.
OK. Got to this point. Good. Now they start playing some games. Then what happens?
To MLB’s credit, their testing issues seem to have abated in the last 10 days, and so far, players and personnel have been testing positive for the virus at a rate far lower than the public. It’s an indication that perhaps it is possible for baseball to proceed in a manner that is safer than the rest of daily life right now. Of course, is anyone here going to say they are confident that can’t change on a dime at any moment? Of course it could. And that’s a huge part of why today feels more like a mere checkpoint than a triumph.
Still, it’s here. Through three and a half weeks of Summer Camp, baseball made it to this day. The Nationals and Yankees will play tonight at 6pm CT, the Dodgers and Giants will play tonight at 9pm CT. There will be regular season baseball to watch for the first time in 10 months. We can’t know what comes next, but I think it’s OK to feel some measure of happiness about the return of baseball. That is, after all, the whole point of sports – and much of the point of life, itself. I’m not going to ask anyone to apologize for experiencing a little joy, especially right now.
I’m also not super interested in artificially constricting my own feelings. There is some happiness today! Really, I do feel it. It’s just that it’s mixed in with all those other complicated feelings – fear and mourning and confusion and the like. I guess you can’t always stave off the cognitive dissonance, so the least you can do is name it. (Or write a blog post about it in a vain attempt to work through your feelings on other peoples’ dime.)
Opening Day is here, and that’s wild to me. It’s the most bizarre and most concerning Opening Day of our lifetimes, and if they happen to make it to the last day of the season, that too will be wild to me. I hope everyone can stay safe. Let’s just see where this goes, and feel all the things that we feel.