Thursday was supposed to be Opening Day.
Chances are good if you’re reading this, I don’t have to tell you that. Major League Baseball suspended spring training and delayed the regular season indefinitely almost two weeks ago to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but you knew that already, and you’re just as broken up about it as the rest of us.
As we all learned in my column last week, I came to baseball late in life. Still, I can’t remember the last time I missed Opening Day. When I was right out of high school and working at the grocery store down the street, wrangling shopping carts in a sunbaked parking lot or cleaning up broken pickle jars, I always made sure to fit my schedule around baseball come spring, so I could sit on the couch with my mom and watch the Texas Rangers play.
Mom may not be huge sports fan, but she loves the Rangers. She even dated one before she met my dad. Lucky for you fine folks, Pops was the better catch, and coincidentally enough, they met at a church league softball game. Life is funny like that.
When I went off to college, Opening Day was spent alongside friends in the basement of the journalism building, all of us huddled around the TV in the newsroom; caution — and deadlines — were thrown to wind because it was time to play ball.
Since I moved to Florida in 2017, Opening Day has always been spent with Seth, your fearless sports editor. A year ago, he and I crashed the Buffalo Wild Wings at Uptown Station to celebrate. He had a TV tuned to the Astros, and I had one tuned to Texas. Up to our elbows in chicken wings, we joked maybe we should bill the trip as a work expense.
As the years have past, I’ve come to cherish those moments. Opening Day, for better or worse, is meant to be shared. So is life.
It’s not meant to be spent alone.
Holed up in my one-bedroom apartment, I have ventured beyond my complex’s dumpster just once in the past two weeks. I see it as doing my part.
Outside of phone calls, I’ve had just one face-to-face conversation; it was with one of the managers at the Publix on Mary Esther Cutoff. He was restocking the shelves, and I made a point to thank him.
Other than that social isolation has been … well … isolating.
I am decidedly an introvert, who enjoys spending most of his time off at home, but this process of waiting out the storm is wearing on even me. I can only imagine what this must be like for those of you who thrive on social interaction. To paraphrase The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel, it turns out we might just miss one another more than we thought.
And that counts for double on Opening Day.