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Today was supposed to be Opening Day

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It’s not, though

NCAA Basketball: MAC Conference Final Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Today was supposed to be Opening Day. I was going to listen to baseball quietly at my desk and surreptitiously check highlights while I counted the hours until quitting time. I was thinking I might microwave hotdogs at work or something, really make friends in the office.

I was going to talk baseball with the president of my company — a Nats fan, he’s very happy — and see if I could get some of those company tickets at some point this year. Instead I spent what felt like the 100th day in a row at my dining room table that operates as my desk, plugging away until 5:00 p.m. when I could lie on my couch with the fatter of my two cats on my chest and drink an Old Fashioned. It’s not a bad life, you understand, but Charlie is kind of tubby, and 10 or so pounds on your chest gets to you after a while.

Today was supposed to be Opening day, and it was going to be great. I don’t care what happened or didn’t happen with the Indians this winter, I wanted to see Franmil hit a ball a quarter mile, and Bieber toss the first Opening Day shutout since Bob Feller, and Lindor just be himself. I was probably going to listen to Tom Hamilton for a bit, but god damn if I don’t miss Rick and Matt on the TV broadcast. Nobody could ever say they’re perfect, but Manning has the funniest little foibles and cliches he uses during a broadcast, and I couldn’t wait to have him just wander off for a few outs, leaving Underwood all alone. Plus, the drum! Who doesn’t miss that constant THUD THUD THUD THUD during a big moment? We were going to get one of those. It was going to be great. Instead I ate probably more cheese than I should have, and later made another peanut butter and jelly sandwich while I finished Curb Your Enthusiasm’s latest season.

Today was supposed to be Opening Day, and all the Mets fans I follow on Twitter for some reason (it’s a New York Sports Talk Radio thing) were going to have absolute breakdowns for the first of a few dozen times while Edwin Diaz collapsed in the ninth and his continued Mets-ification continued. Really, one of the quiet pleasures of baseball is the forlorn fan, the beaten-down faithful who live and die — mostly die — at the whims of a poorly run but utterly beloved team. I can’t help but like the Mets, whether for their fans or the players they have — somehow Pete Alonso got into a fight on Twitter this winter because some rando accused him of supporting ISIS, which was an incredible couple hours — or just how they are run like a dog and pony show mere miles from the paragon of corporate, machine-like success that is the Yankees. It’s like if the Mariners played in the biggest market in the country. Things like this are a mainstay of baseball, despite it being a billion dollar industry. Simply amazing.

Today was supposed to be Opening Day, and the journey was going to begin. My editor was actually going to start enforcing the number of articles I was supposed to write each week, and I was going to simultaneously have so much to write about and complain for the next month about how “none of the stats matter yet” and “we need normalization for me to do anything” and the readership was going to be subjected to countless GIF-filled wonderings that gobble up whatever data plan. We were going to — again — go through the routine of a slow start, a May charge, some kind of swoon and an injury that threatens the season, and some kind of race at the end that make us love and hate the team we follow because they seem to be squandering the best window in a generation, but are still so full of amazing players. I couldn’t wait to find some new way to point out how amazing José Ramírez is, or discover with my own eyes that Domingo Santana is, in fact, a horror show in the outfield. Hopefully he can hit the ball though.

Today was supposed to be Opening Day, and I was going to leave work early and become a champion. My brother won a hotdog eating contest last year at a bar we like — it’s a Chicago/Detroit themed bar, so you can get Stroh’s and Malort — and he got a cool authentic Tigers jersey with his name on it. On that very day I challenged him to a face-off in a years’ time, where not only the name on the trophy (it’s a cute trophy, wood and copper with a little hotdog on top) and the awesome jersey, but familial honor. As an older brother, I couldn’t let his victory go unchallenged. These are hotdogs after all, and if I can’t eat three of those things in like 50 seconds, what am I doing on Earth even? So I challenged him. I hoped for a White Sox jersey, because he has Tigers and I can’t in good conscience wear a Cubs jersey. That contest is cancelled though, the bar is shut down for who knows how long. My brother is laid off for, again, who knows how long, and can’t afford to make rent for more than a month, much less go out to the bar even if he could. Many friends I have are laid off for, once again, who knows how long, so I have nobody to talk baseball with in person except my wife and cats. No, instead we just sit and spin the day a way, and wait, and worry.

Today was supposed to be Opening Day, and the sun was out in Washington, DC. It’s beautiful as I write this. I want to go outside, go for a walk with my radio, go to the park and toss a ball around. Go to that bar I mentioned or this other one I like that trains go by every 10 minutes or so. But I can’t. Instead I look out the window and worry. About getting sick all of a sudden because I walked too close to someone else, about my parents, my friends, about that old guy who lives across the streets and listens to old Motown music all evening. Usually in the spring and summer I can have the window in my study open and listen to it while I write. That’s not happening. Instead I turn on the TV and a president is blathering on about nothing being his fault, and how nothing is wrong and everything will blow over and we should just go out and spend some money for the sake of The Economy, despite every single expert and piece of evidence from around the world refuting every word out of his mouth. I watch while the people who are supposed to keep him honest just tell us about his ravings and complain about how mad he is, and how This Isn’t Normal. All while the plight of an already gutted American people only grows in the face of a new, strange threat that the people they elected are supposed to handle, simply can’t and sometimes won’t even recognize. Instead of baseball the biggest thing on TV today is a terrible reality show whose only prize is more pain and uncertainty.

Today was supposed to be Opening Day. Literally the day that matters most for a thing — baseball — that doesn’t really matter at all. It’s a special, silly day that so many look forward to, that I want and and, dare I say, need to have. A kind of reset of my year as the spring dawns. I didn’t get that. None of us did. Instead we get worry and pain, as people we know and don’t fall ill and come into contact with a system that’s overworked, underfunded and no matter what happens they’ll be worse off.

Today was supposed to be Opening Day. Instead a couple hundred more people died. Some day, hopefully soon, we’ll be able to enjoy things that don’t matter. I guess that won’t be today.