The coronavirus hits home (plate)

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For the first time since I began self-quarantine in trying to do my part to help the country’s uphill battle against the coronavirus pandemic, I am depressed.

I had circled March 26 on my calendar months ago. I anxiously awaited its arrival.

What was so special about that date? It was Opening Day for the Major League Baseball season.

I had it all planned out. I was going to play hooky from work (sorry Mr. Paulos), drive over to Red Rock Resort, plunk my butt down in the Race and Sports Book, grab the Racing Form, play the horses with my buddies and put the Yankees-Orioles game on my individual TV at my seat.

It would have been a glorious day. The Yanks would have been huge favorites over the Birds, Camden Yards would have been packed for the only time all season, Garret Cole would have struck out 13 Orioles, the Bronx Bombers would’ve likely covered the run line and the total would’ve gone over and John Sterling would’ve screeched over the radio “Theeeeeee Yankees win!” following a lopsided victory. 

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Hell, I might’ve even had a winning day with the ponies.

Instead, there was no Yankees-Orioles. There was no baseball, period.

Put another one in the left-hand column for the coronavirus.

If you’re like me, this is tough to deal with. I don’t care who you root for, today was your day. Even the few of you who root for the Marlins and the Tigers. You still woke up with optimism. That’s what Opening Day is about.

My friends and family were just like me. They also were waiting for this day to arrive. Dave Cokin could feel good about his Red Sox. Ed Graney could watch his Dodgers. Well, maybe not. Ron Kantowski was anxious to see how his Cubs would perform without Joe Maddon in the dugout. Kevin Iole would’ve watched the Pirates.

My brother Norm could watch his Mets. My nephews Michael and Adam would be able to watch the Giants and indoctrinate their toddlers into pulling for them. I was looking forward to having the video texted to me of my great-nephew Caleb, who turned 1 earlier this month, watching the Giants-Dodgers game, swinging his little bat then “running the bases.”

Hey, the kid can already dunk. So anything’s possible.

And on and on it goes. My buddy Ken Korach would’ve called the A’s-Twins game. Dave Sims would’ve been behind the mike for the Mariners-Rangers. Tim Neverett would be calling the Dodgers vs. the Giants. Instead, their mics have gone silent.

We’ve been without the NBA and NHL for two weeks now. We are dealing with the fact college basketball pulled the plug on March Madness. We follow the happenings around the NFL more out of boredom rather than anticipation because so little is going on in the sports world.

But this? The start of the baseball season being delayed? That hurts the most. That’s the true telltale sign things are not right in America (and perhaps Canada, where the Blue Jays game at Boston was impacted).

For once, this was not a self-inflicted wound on the part of greedy players and owners. No one has control this time. COVID-19 calls the shots.

We don’t even have minor league baseball to follow. The beautiful Las Vegas Ballpark in my Summerlin neighborhood lays dormant. Nobody knows when the Aviators will play ball.

Honestly, I’ve coped fairly well without live sports to watch. I don’t watch reruns of various games from the past that fills ESPN’s airwaves and other sports networks. Even when the teams I root for are featured. I know the outcome. I don’t necessarily need to be reminded in order to feel good. However, if someone wants to show the Easter Epic next month when the Islanders beat the Capitals 3-2 in Game 7 in four overtimes, I might be inclined to relive that one since I was half-asleep when Pat LaFontaine ended it.

But not having live baseball to watch? That’s going to be tough.

I have plans to go to New York in late May when the Twins play the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. I usually make an annual pilgrimage to the Bronx, ride the subway, stop at the Court Deli across from the Bronx County Courthouse on the Grand Concourse for pastrami or brisket, then head into the Stadium.

I like to sit in the Terrace level, sandwiched between the upper deck and the second level. Most of the time, it’s a solo trip, but it is a pleasant excursion nonetheless, even if the Pinstripes lose.

However, I don’t know if I’m going to keep the date. We don’t know when the season will start. It may get pushed back until June. And right now, New York, which is the nation’s epicenter for coronavirus at the moment, is in no position to be holding baseball games, or any sporting event, concert, Broadway show or any gathering for that matter. 

I’m O.K. with that. There will be other opportunities to visit Yankee Stadium at some point. I can always change a flight or re-book a hotel room. Right now, I’ll settle for games without fans as long as I can watch or listen, and yes, maybe even have a little action on it.

William Hill U.S. CEO Joe Asher was right when we talked Wednesday. We need to get sports back in our lives. We need the distraction from all the bad news we see and read about. We need hope.

Let me leave you with this, courtesy of that great baseball philosopher Vin Scully, who is 92 and has seen first-hand how the game can help a nation heal, be it the Great Depression, World War II or 9/11:

“If baseball starts up, we’ve got this thing beat and we can go about our lives. Baseball is not a bad thermometer, when baseball begins, whenever that is, that will be a sure sign that the country is slowly getting back on its feet.”

Indeed. Well said.

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About the Author

Steve Carp

Steve Carp is a six-time Nevada Sportswriter of the Year. A 30-year veteran of the Las Vegas sports journalism scene, he covered the Vegas Golden Knights for the Las Vegas Review-Journal from 2015-2018.

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