March 13, 2020 was on of the strangest days of my life. The weather was beautiful. The sun shining and the temperature at a mild 75 degrees. My work schedule was normal and I happily walked the dogs on it, but I knew that at the end of that day everything was changing. The cancellations were pouring in the way bookings should have and by the end of that day the state of Virginia would be on lock down.
In Florida the Nationals and Yankees took the field with the announcement already in that the baseball season would be suspended. Spring Training was to end and players return to their homes to quarantine with their families. The entire world was grinding to a halt. Life was being put on pause.
Since that day I can’t say I’ve thought about baseball much. With a global pandemic, economic uncertainty, two small children at home and another on the way, and a business to keep afloat baseball was the farthest thing from my mind. I read, I played video games, I cared for my children, experimented with new recipes, and found other ways to distract myself from all the happenings in the world. As a global pandemic gave way to social unrest and continuing human rights violations I barely thought of baseball. I didn’t think I missed it. Reading and video games were my anchor, my sense of normalcy, my distraction.
Welcome back, old friend. It is so good to see you. #OpeningDay— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) July 23, 2020
🖊️ Written by Tom Verducci
🎙️ Narrated by Jon Hamm pic.twitter.com/wO1R01rWrG
Then I saw the above tweet and started to bawl like a baby. The last time I watched baseball I did so holding my children that we had recently brought home from the NICU, and finished the game out listening to Charlie and Dave as I gave them their last bottle before bed. I celebrated a game seven World Series victory with my three month old twin boys, and it was one of the happiest moments of my life. Since then I’ve watched and listened to that moment hundreds of times. I can close my eyes and see Daniel Hudson throwing his glove, and maybe this is why I didn’t think I needed baseball. Mr. Rizzo had done it, the Nationals had won it, with Juan Soto shuffling all the way. It was the culmination of 15 seasons of struggle and strife. Of rooting for 100 loss teams and heartbreaking playoff exits. It was the reward for sticking with The Nationals for good times and bad, and suddenly here was the greatest time of all. A new family and a World Series championship.
Then I watched that video. Then I realized how much I need baseball. I need to sit down with my one year old children tonight and watch Max Scherzer take on Gerrit Cole. I need to watch Juan Soto shuffle in the box letting pitchers know who is boss. I need to root, root, root for the Nationals, and if they don’t win it will be a shame, but it will be a small slice of normalcy. A three hour return to the world that was. For three hours tonight we can forget the American is rolling downhill like a snowball headed for hell.
Baseball is simultaneously a reminder of our past and the promise of the future. It is still 60 feet 6 inches from the mound to home plate, 90 feet to first, three strikes and you’re out, and it Juan Soto, Max Scherzer, Yan Gomes, Kurt Suzuki, Sean Doolittle, Howie Kendrick, and Adam Eaton playing for the same team, pulling for the same goal. To defend and repeat as World Series champions. And until today I didn’t realize how much I’d missed baseball. How much I needed this anchor, this sense of normalcy, in my life. Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got until it is gone, and sometimes you don’t know what you’ve missed until it’s back.