In real life, I’m in grad school to become a therapist. Like many other peoples’ jobs, what I do for work can impact how I think about baseball and the Yankees. For example, I’m about as much of a #baseballnerd as you can get. My favorite stats are xwOBA and wRC+. The more numbers and letters in a stat, the more likely I am to like it. Heck, I wrote an entire blog comparing different projection systems on Gerrit Cole when the only thing that matters is they all agree he’s awesome.
However, because I spend my days listening to people talk, I know to value the human element of the game. Stats say clutch isn’t real, but every single baseball player thinks it is. And sometime thinking something is real is enough to make it play out in real life.
With baseball being suspended for at least the next two months based on the latest CDC recommendations, I’ve been thinking about why this delay feels so crushing and what we can do to make it easier on ourselves.
Simply put, disappointment stems from unmet expectations. Game of Thrones season 8 is a great example, at least for me. For seven seasons, GoT was arguably the best show on television, and Alison Herman of The Ringer referred to it as the last piece of tv monoculture. Season 8, on the other hand, was met with anger and disappointment to the point of petitions to redo the season that reached nearly 2 million people. Was the show actually terrible in its 8th and final season? Maybe. But more likely, the outrage was because the first 7 seasons were so good and people expected more of the same in the final installment. When that expectation wasn’t met, people were angry.
Our current disappointment is delaying the start of the 2020 MLB season due to COVID-19. Like the GoT example, those feelings come from unmet expectations. Next Thursday, I expected to spend my afternoon with the BPCrew and soak in the magic of opening day. I expected to watch Nick Kirby lose his voice even though the Yankees are up by 7 runs in the 4th inning. I expected to see Gerrit Cole blow fastballs by hapless (no pun intended) Orioles hitters and Gleyber Torres to hit at least 3 home runs because he owns them. Now none of that will happen, at least not for the foreseeable future, which is disappointing. And for everyone else, it is okay to feel that way. It does not make you selfish to wish you had baseball to help you escape the fear and misery that is the coronavirus pandemic.
So what can we do?
Remember everything you appreciate about baseball. Andrew is posting an article today with what the BPTeam will miss most about baseball. That list is also a list of things we love and appreciate about the game and the Yankees. Think of your own list and remember it when baseball does come back. Missing baseball now sucks, but it can also help us be more grateful and love it even more. Appreciation and gratitude are one of the biggest keys to happiness, and that is what we need during this time.
What if that’s not enough?
Some people want to feel like they can do more because that’s what helps them. For those who believe in “stop thinking and start doing,” I got something for you too. In the sports world, the people most affected by these delays are team staff and stadium workers as well as minor leaguers. Without games, they don’t get paid. Through today, very few teams have committed to paying these employees while we wait for games to be restarted. For those living paycheck-to-paycheck, being paid right now is even more important to survive. I urge you to implore the Yankees and any other sports teams you root for to take care of their employees.
So far, the Tigers are the only MLB team to commit to paying their stadium employees for any part of this delay. Multiple NBA teams including the Mavericks, Hawks, and Warriors have already stepped up. You’re going to spend the next few weeks (at least) “working” from home, so take a few minutes out of your day to use your social media to advocate.
Please, please, please stay home if you can right now! If you ask our guy JJ, the more you go out, the longer baseball season gets delayed:
If you won’t do it for yourself or for everyone else, then maybe do it so we can all watch DJ LeMahieu be a stone-cold killer a little sooner.
Lastly, I couldn’t be a good therapist if I didn’t encourage you to get help right now if you need. These are stressful, crazy, unprecedented times, and it’s 100% okay to ask for help. Many therapists can have sessions virtually over videochat, so please reach out to one if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Likewise, try to understand the stress and anxiety in general society today is how people living through certain mental health conditions may experience life every day when there is no global health pandemic. If we can come out of this with more compassion for mental health and what people go through we’ll all be better for it. At the end of the day we’re all baseball fans and we’re going to get through this together…as long as you wash your hands and stay home.