It’s been more than two weeks since what should have been Opening Day. The days all blend together, and if I weren’t a student, I doubt I could tell you what day of the week it is. One of the hardest things about being isolated right now is also not having sports to rely on as an escape. Hell, I’ve been missing sports so much that I watched the entire NBA/WNBA Horse Competition on ESPN last night. It was four hours of spotty internet connection, home setups, and trick shots like off-hand free throws. Was it fun and exciting? No. But did I relish every second of it? Yes.
Other than relegating myself to watching obscure competitions like that, I’ve been thinking about the 2019 New York Yankees, specifically about their performance in April 2019 because it was a year ago. Although they finished the year with an amazing 103 wins, they didn’t start the year out hot at all. After 15 games, they were 6-9, lost two in a row to the lowly Baltimore Orioles and got swept in Houston.
I had to look those numbers up, not because I didn’t remember what happened, but because I didn’t watch those games. And it wasn’t because the team was sucking up the joint. I was going through something this time last year to the point where I couldn’t get myself to watch baseball. I was feeling so anxious that it was impossible for me to sit still and watch an inning, let alone an entire game. Anyone who knows me knows how crazy that is – I normally watch every inning of every game no matter the score. Yet I couldn’t get myself to watch any at all. Then the Boston Red Sox came to town.
The Yankees won the first game of the series 8-0 behind a masterful James Paxton start, outdueling Chris Sale. Mike Tauchmann, Gleyber, and Clint all homered. It felt like things were starting to turn around.
Then the next day, the Yankees found themselves down 3-1 in the seventh inning after J.A. Happ gave up home runs to J.D. Martinez and Christian Vazquez of all people. And I was deflated. Mad that I started to believe things were turning around, not just for the Yankees, but for me. It sucked sitting on my couch watching them flail against Nathan Eovaldi.
Thankfully, Brett Gardner wasn’t going to have any of it. The bases were loaded after Frazier doubled and Tauchmann and Romine walked. In an 0-2 count against Ryan Brasier, the most annoying Red Sox reliever since Kimbrel, Gardy launched a home run into that beautiful Bronx night.
There are some sports moments that you’ll remember forever, not because of how important they are, but because of what they mean. That home run felt like a turning point for the team, and one for me. There’s a thing going around Twitter right now about what specific thing about sports you miss.
What VERY SPECIFIC thing do you miss about sports the most? Be as specific as possible.
For me, I miss everything about that grand slam. The backup players working the count and getting on base. The fight the team showed getting through that early-season adversity. And how no matter how dire things seem, it only takes one swing to make everything okay again.
The Yankees were down but not out. And every night after that they showed up. And they fought no matter who was hurt and who was in the lineup.
#Replacefor28 became the rallying cry for the 2019 season, and I would argue it began that night. Frazier. Tauchmann. Romine. None of them were projected opening day starters. Yet they came through.
In times like these, we miss sports even more. I think it’s because no matter what’s going on in our lives or in the world, for a few hours every night sports can make it okay. Right now we’re all waiting for that Gardner grand slam, both literally and metaphorically. And I know that it will come.
If having hope in things getting better and sports returning isn’t enough for you today, I recommend watching this video: