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Filling The Void: A Different Spin

Legendary sporting moments can help ease the tension and remind us that we’ll all persevere.

Mike Piazza Photo at Citi Field by slgckgc is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Filling The Void: A Different Spin

Estimated Reading Time: 5 Minutes

It was almost like a sort of paralysis. I was walking down the street to meet a friend (EDITOR’S NOTE: I, Kevin, was that friend) for a drink when word came down that Broadway was closing up shop. The decision had been made that, in an attempt to try and get ahead of the Coronavirus somehow, all Broadway shows would stop performances. That was the moment for me.

Until then, I had been hearing and reading all sorts of different things about this “coronavirus”. Some were saying it was nothing to really worry about – others were ringing alarm bells. Until that moment, I was carrying on with life. I was finishing up a stint at one of my survival jobs and preparing to work a shift at one of my other survival jobs. When that news broke, things rapidly ground to a halt. Even though I was going through the motions, everything seemed to be in a state of suspended animation.

Since that day, I’ve returned to my apartment and practiced “social distancing” and “self-isolation” as best I can. I pretty much haven’t left my apartment. I’ve stayed at home, busying myself while keeping tabs on everything. Like everyone these days, my life has been turned upside down. The world keeps spinning but the overwhelming feeling is uncertainty. “How will I pay my mortgage”? “Will any of my jobs still exist when this passes”? “Will my wedding date be postponed”? and so on. These are questions we’re all asking ourselves.

Living in this state of uncertainty, full of questions and anxiety, brought me back to September 11, 2001. It was the last time I can remember feeling anything even remotely close to the way I do right now. I hearken back to an article by our Editor-In-Chief, whose words come pretty close to that feeling:

“Over the next few days I was glued to the TV. I think we all were. In a world that felt so dark, so cruel and so unsure, what we wanted was peace, some answers and normalcy. I wanted to go back to how things were September 10th.

Of course, we couldn’t do that.”

Justin Colombo

I am in no way trying to compare the events of September 11th, 2001 with our current state of affairs and the ongoing battle against this pandemic. I only reference the tragedy to serve as a backdrop for today’s “Filling The Void” recommendation.

Today: I offer you the Atlanta Braves vs. New York Mets on September 21, 2001.

This was one of the first that came to mind when we were talking about the “Filling The Void” concept amongst our writers. In fact – I actually sat and watched the entire game almost immediately.

The game itself was one of little notoriety. It was a pitchers duel, for the most part, pitting Bruce Chen against Jason Marquis. There were potential playoff implications for the Mets – who were riding a hot streak and in the process of trying to eliminate a 13.5 game gap on their division-leading opponents. By the time the first pitch rolled around, that gap had been closed to only 5 games. As you’d expect when a team on a hot streak is facing a division leader – it was a close, back and forth battle. In the end, the Mets walked away as 3-2 victors, but the result was pretty insignificant in the grand scheme.

More Than A Game

Sure, it was fun to sit back and watch the game strictly as a baseball fan, but I was more interested and impacted by everything that happened that night “around” the game. From the pre-game ceremony to the interview with Giuliani, to the running commentary from the broadcast booth about the feeling inside Shea Stadium given the circumstances of the evening. The tension surrounding the city and country ten days after those tragic events was starting to ease, if only briefly. We were allowing ourselves to escape, for just a little bit, from the uncertainty of the world around us on that day. Then, of course, came THE moment, in the bottom of the 8th inning, with the Mets trailing 2-1:

Matt Lawton grounded out. Edgardo Alfonzo turned a full count into a walk, and Mike Piazza strode to the plate. Howie Rose, almost prophetically, said “Here’s the man the Mets want up in this spot. Down a run, late in the game”. Sure enough, he took the second pitch of the at-bat deep over the wall in left-center field. The stadium exploded.

In an interview in 2016, Piazza’s father recalled a conversation he’d had with his son about what that HR meant. “You can’t imagine what that home run meant, to the country! I mean, it united everybody.”

That’s what I took from re-watching this game. As we all nest in our homes, trying not to go stir crazy, wondering what lies ahead when everything we’re enduring subsides – I take solace knowing that we will come out the other end of this. Sure, there probably won’t be a singular moment like the Piazza HR that might represent that “getting over the hump”, but it’s a reminder that, together as a nation and a society, we will all persevere.

See you tomorrow. Stay Safe. Stay Smart. Wash Your Hands.

Joe is an actor who grew up eating, living and breathing sports. He spent many an afternoon on the soccer or baseball field in his youth (and even gave several other sports a shot) before a series of events put him on the path to pursuing a performing career. Subsequently, he's worked almost every other type of job you could imagine while trying to support that endeavor. Whenever he's not working any of those jobs, he can often be found watching, playing or discussing sports in some way. Most of that banter revolves around the Mets, Giants, Rangers or Manchester United. His short term goal is to fully convert his fiance into a rabid sports fan, not someone who leaves the room whenever he turns a game on.

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