I don’t really know what to write in this piece, you guys. It’s 1:09 am, I’m sitting on my couch while my dog quietly snores next to me and my wife sleeps in the other room. I, much like a lot of us out there, haven’t really been sleeping a lot lately, and tonight is no different.
I’ve struggled with anxiety for a long time, but really only put a name to the feeling a few years ago. It was late October, and I was visiting my parents up in Massachusetts. There’s no real rhyme or reason as to why the flood gates opened, no point of origin, but I remember waking up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat feeling like I had to run as fast as I could to anywhere other than my bedroom.
After poking my head outside our front door for some air, I opened my phone and watched the first few innings of the 2017 World Series.
That World Series was the last one I watched with my grandfather. Due to some serious wind storms in MA that week, my parents’ house had lost power for days. That meant phones and laptops were charged at Starbucks during the day, and meals were had at my grandparents’ house a few towns away.
So the night after I have my first panic attack, I’m back watching the Dodgers play the Astros with my grandparents, and everything kind of fades away. For a second, there is nothing else but baseball. It’s the only thing that exists.
For the last two years, I have turned to baseball on multiple occasions to help with my anxiety. As my insomnia grew worse, I’d stay up later watching the Giants or the Padres, and occasionally tuning in to see the Mariners lose. Baseball was my escape. I could be alone in the world through baseball.
Everything was quiet.
Baseball statistics became a warm blanket I could wrap myself in. In a world where the rules seem to change on a dime, and life is rapidly shifting while time seems to ebb and flow between instantaneous and languid, baseball statistics gave me something to hold onto.
Did you know that Oakland A’s outfielder Khris Davis hit .247 in four consecutive seasons?
Are you aware that Nolan Ryan‘s final game came against the Seattle Mariners, or that on his second to last pitch, he tore a ligament in his elbow, and STILL threw one more fastball?
Did you know that Pedro Martinez had statistically one of the greatest pitching seasons of all-time and still didn’t win the AL MVP?
Probably not. But I do. Because I have to know that kind of stuff. In order to make the world around me feel sensical, to have order, I need to know those dumb little factoids. Because baseball doesn’t matter.
And it especially doesn’t matter today.
Since the final out of the 2019 World Series I have had March 26th circled on every one of my calendars. Before I even wrote in my birthday, my wife’s birthday or our anniversary, I penciled in Opening Day. It is a national holiday in my house. I even bought a jersey for this year’s festivities. It’s a Mets Pedro Martinez home pinstripe and it is glorious.
But there’s no baseball today, and there won’t be for the foreseeable future.
However, for the first time in the last two years, that’s okay. While I sit inside my apartment and my dog rolls over to get in a better sleeping position, there are people fighting for their lives and the lives of others.
I grew up with family in the military and I have friends who are first responders, and I cannot fathom the immense bravery it takes to put yourself in harm’s way, to risk your life, for someone you do not know. And to do it every day? I’m an actor, I work for 2.5 hours, the worst part of my day is walking through tourists in Times Square. But, what some people are doing out ther, right now? Risking their lives to save others? That’s more important than baseball.
That is something that makes sense. That’s something that brings order to the whole.
Over the last few nights, I’ve heard birds chirping in the courtyard of the old folks home across the street from our building. It’s weird and loud, but mostly it’s confusing. The first time I heard them I glanced at my clock expecting it to be 5:00, but saw an early 12:30. And then I remember that some people at Mount Sinai down the street are just getting off work for the day. And some people are just getting started.
That’s more important than baseball. That’s more important than not having Opening Day.
On Opening Day millions of fans tune in to cheer for their team for the first time. Opening Day is always the loudest game of the regular season, and that’s because people are hungry for it. Fans need the crack of the bat, the fizz of a fastball and that indescribably feeling that pulls you out of your seat as a ball flies into the night sky.
But baseball players don’t need our cheers today. So in lieu of baseball, call someone you know and reconnect, send a care package to someone who is quarantining alone, or even donate to a worthy cause. Whatever you do, celebrate someone who is working hard to make the world right again.
Things will return to normal. The smell of the grass in ballparks across the country will remind us of summers past. The late August breeze will once again trick us into thinking we still have time before autumn. However, when all of this is said and done, and the doctors take off their gloves and we all emerge from our homes to feel the warmth of the sun on our awful self-induced haircuts, let’s remember the important things from this.
There are more important things in life, like life itself. And that every day we have the opportunity to change everything. But don’t take my word for it, here’s a quote from Bob Feller, who once had his fastball race a motorcycle, because that’s SCIENCE.
“Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again. That’s the way life is, with a new game every day, and that’s the way baseball is.” – Bob Feller, Hall of Fame Pitcher
Besides that, remember to Wash Your Hands. Stay Home. Stay Safe. And we’ll see you tomorrow.
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