Hello and welcome to another edition of The Good Press.
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This week, the 116th World Series will decide the 2020 world champion of Major League Baseball, with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays battling it out in Arlington, Texas in front of a crowd of several thousand fans.
Back in April and May, that wasn’t a sentence I expected to be able to type all these months later. Back when The Good Press was starting out, when I was sheltered-in-place, back when the first peak of COVID-19 turned The City That Never Sleeps into a sleepy city full of sirens and refrigerated trucks.
Do you remember the refrigerated trucks? The ones that were deputized to help the morgue’s overflow because they couldn’t keep up with the demand?
I will never forget the refrigerated trucks for the rest of my life.
All these months later, as Americans battle “pandemic fatigue,” I hope we can remember the trucks. Remember what can happen, to communities big and small, if proper precautions aren’t taken, if the integrity is compromised.
Like most things, it’s hard to play baseball in a pandemic. It requires a whole new set of rules and protocols that had to be engineered on the fly this year.
Last week, I wrote about how the NBA and other sports leagues opted for the bubble clean site format, and it emerged as a strong model for success.
Baseball didn’t do it that way, but their protocols and the execution of those protocols have unequivocally succeeded. This month, the 2020 postseason has been the best of what baseball can be, and while it has not been without risk, the players deserve credit for their outstanding and fervent discipline.
Everyone who’s been a part of putting these ballgames together deserves credit for their discipline to keep the integrity of the game uncompromised.
I guess we shouldn’t be surprised because discipline is a big part of baseball. There’s even a term in baseball, “plate discipline,” referring to a batter’s ability to discern which pitches are not worth swinging at and should be left alone, and which pitches play into the batter’s strengths and are worth swinging at.
It’s not easy to know which pitches are the ones that you can handle and which are the ones you can’t. Sure, a batter can’t hit a home run if he doesn’t swing the bat, but pitchers intend to never allow home runs; hence the cat-and-mouse battle of wits between the pitcher and batter on every pitch. It’s the batters with strong pitch recognition skills and strong plate discipline who can decide within fractions of a second: to swing or not to swing.
I am still a bit apprehensive about the “several thousand fans” aspect of these games, but I am hopeful that the discipline and integrity that has been shown thus far all across the sport can remain strong throughout the World Series.
Of course baseball has made it nearly to the finish line unscathed! When you have the discipline to check your swing at a nasty slider an inch off the plate, spitting into a tube and staying in your hotel room every day must seem easy.
The resolve and discipline of the men and women who make this beautiful game happen should be celebrated, and it should not be taken for granted.
In Other Words
It wasn’t that long ago that the refrigerated trucks rolled through New York.
This fall and winter throughout the U.S. and the entire northern hemisphere, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for it to happen again. There are places both domestic and abroad that have built new temporary hospitals recently.
“Pandemic fatigue” is particularly dangerous because it puts all people at risk, not just the people who’ve decided to stop caring about taking precautions, but all of the people they interact with, no matter how careful they’re being.
We know that the virus spreads insidiously and silently at times. People can and do spread their infections to others before they even realize they have it.
And now, as of the time I most recently edited this sentence, the New York Times coronavirus map and case counter is showing some unnerving trends.
Per the Times, (bold emphasis is my own):
At least 517 new coronavirus deaths and 64,218 new cases were reported in the United States on Monday, October 19. Over the past week, there have been an average of 59,269 coronavirus cases per day, an increase of 34 percent from the average [cases per day in the U.S.] two weeks earlier.
As of the evening of Tuesday, October 20, more than 8,313,300 people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus and at least 220,900 Americans have died, according to a New York Times database.
Click through to read the most up-to-date data, with more information in detail about where the most current hotspots are throughout the U.S.:
Covid in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count
At least 929 new coronavirus deaths and 60,598 new cases were reported in the United States on Oct. 20. Over the past…
Axios also wrote this week about how hospitalizations due to COVID are starting to creep up again, an ominous sign that is surely worth monitoring.
Coronavirus hospitalizations are on the rise
Coronavirus hospitalizations are increasing in 39 states, and are at or near their all-time peak in 16. The big…
If we consider the summertime a second peak on the coronavirus curve here in the U.S., we could very well be entering a third peak of sorts now. Everyday Americans have been resilient and disciplined all these months as the failed pandemic response by the federal government has wreaked havoc on us all.
I know that it’s been hard to stay indoors, socialize with your loved ones over Zoom and FaceTime, phone calls and drive-bys, physically-distant outdoor events, and all the other creative solutions we’ve had to get used to together.
But that last word is important; together. We’re still all in this together even though we’re physically distanced from one another. Our collective actions over the next few months will tell the story of how bad a third peak will be.
When we all do our part to stay vigilant and stay disciplined, we protect ourselves and our communities. If we continue to do that, we’ll get through this again. The refrigerated trucks will not be inevitable, not if we can help it.
So take a deep breath, unclench your jaw, make sure you have a Plan A and Plan B to vote if you haven’t already voted early, and remember that being prepared and having a good plan can protect you and your community. We’re getting better at adjusting to the realities of the pandemic and the pandemic response. The more we stay disciplined now, the faster we beat this thing.
Whether it’s a sports league bubble or functional federal leadership, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and several blueprints for how to get past this.
Countries like New Zealand have had strong leadership and discipline, functionally eradicating the virus completely and returning their country virtually to a pre-COVID normal life. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern cruised to reelection after a first term that included giving birth while in office and leading the most effective pandemic response in the world. With fewer than 2,000 total cases, only 25 deaths, and zero active cases, it feels superhuman.
New Zealand's Ardern credits virus response for election win
AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) - A day after winning a second term in a landslide victory, New Zealand Prime Minister…
But it’s not superhuman. It’s actually quite human. It’s the best of humanity.
It’s empathy and trust and true leadership. It’s what this country needs, and hopefully, it’s what this country will have by Inauguration Day next January.
That’s three months away, however, and until then, it’s up to us. Each and every one of us who have to find that inner strength to stay strong and as disciplined as we can be to keep ourselves and our communities virus-free.
I believe in us. I know we can and will do our best. Together we are strong.
We might have to wear these face masks for some time, but it’s a small price to pay. Maybe Westley from the extraordinary and timeless film, The Princess Bride, was prescient: “I think everyone will be wearing them in the future.”
I want to end with some light baseball nerdery this week, so bear with me.
In a best-of-seven series like the World Series, potential Games 5, 6, and 7 are always listed as “if necessary” on the schedule because a team can conceivably win four straight games right out of the gate and win the series.
Last week, all those games were extremely necessary. The Rays and Dodgers both needed all seven games apiece to dispatch their respective opponents. The 2020 American League and National League Championship Series were instant classics, and baseball fans can only hope the World Series will be, too.
The Dodgers and Rays deserve to be the teams playing for all the marbles. They were the two best teams in baseball’s abbreviated 60-game season, and the cream rose to the top in a postseason with no clear top-seed advantage. Both teams won their League Championship pennants in unfamiliar, neutral site ballparks, though the Dodgers may have a bit of an advantage now since they played ten games in the host ballpark before the Rays got to play there.
One of the unique things in baseball that almost no other sport has is the fact that each ballpark has its own unique field dimensions and features, including the irregular fences and awkward angles of the host ballpark in Arlington.
Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts, a former Most Valuable Player and World Series champion with the Boston Red Sox, was acquired in a trade before the season, seen by many in baseball as the missing piece for L.A.’s title dreams.
Betts got himself extremely familiar with this ballpark’s unique field features in last week’s National League Championship Series with three superb defensive plays that may have saved the Dodgers’ season against Atlanta.
Mookie Betts' three NLCS catches | 10/19/2020
Mookie Betts makes three great catches in three straight NLCS games to help the Dodgers surge back in the series…
For the Rays, it’s a revolving door of under-the-radar names who seemingly take turns being the superstar of the week to keep them winning ballgames.
In the American League Championship Series, it was 25-year-old outfielder Randy Arozarena who powered the Rays to their second-ever AL pennant, becoming the first rookie position player (non-pitcher) to win ALCS MVP.
Perhaps the most compelling dynamic that links these two teams is the fact that Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman, the head executive for L.A., was the Rays’ top executive for a decade before departing for the Dodgers job in October 2014. The future Hall of Famer had a big role in building the Rays into what they are today, even long after he went west.
Andrew Friedman's fingerprints all over Dodgers' and Rays' odd paths to World Series
When Andrew Friedman left the Tampa Bay Rays to become the Dodgers ' president of baseball operations in October 2014…
Tampa Bay is looking for its first world championship here in its 22-year franchise history, one of the youngest franchises in baseball. The Dodgers, on the other hand, are looking for championship number seven overall and their sixth in L.A., having played home games in Brooklyn from 1883 until 1957.
So here’s to a good, clean, well-played, disciplined, and virus-free series.
And here’s to disciplined and virus-free communities all over the world over the next few months and beyond. Let’s all do our part to make it possible and find a way to stay safe, stay healthy, stay strong, and stay secure together.
Be a good neighbor; wear a mask, respect social distancing measures, and keep up the fight against the pandemic and pandemic fatigue. Till next time.
Previously in The Good Press
The Good Press — Issue #26: Integrity
The NBA bubble held up strong and the world is better for it
October 14, 2020
The Good Press — Issue #25: Care
In a year that’s felt like decades, this week was like a century
October 7, 2020
The Good Press — Issue #24: Resilience
Baseball defiantly marches on after early stumbles with the virus
September 30, 2020