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Sunday, April 5, 2020

The Whole Truth

The overwhelming problem with the President's response to this pandemic has been his unrelenting affliction for speaking in hyperbolic certainty.

He has created a campaign and then a presidency predicated on hyperventilated, manufactured truths that have provided pablum and sustenance for those who drink the Kool Aid, but have only led to escalated difficulties at each turn.

From the near collision course with North Korea, to his impenetrable Wall, to the tariff wars with China and others, from his intended withdrawal from the climate change accord, to the perfect conversation with the Ukrainian President and his dalliance with Russia, Mr.Trump's one constant is his complete assurance of his superior knowledge of the situation and the supposed ease with which whatever dilemma posed will be resolved.

It is the essence of his DNA and his presidency. And when now his bluff has been called by a virus that knows no way but forward, when the emperor stands before this nation clothed in nothing but his lack of comprehension, when this illness is not distracted or deterred by grotesque mischaracterizations then we as a nation are left with everything to fear and no one in charge.

So today we can only hope that Mr. Trump and Mr. Kushner fully cede the spotlight and the response to those who come armed with actual knowledge and understanding. For the President's misstatements, misunderstandings and miscalculations have left us in a state of triage. 

The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. That is all we ever wanted, and nothing this President has even remotely provided. And the result is racing through every town, every hospital and every heart in this nation.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

We acknowledge receipt of your order

We acknowledge receipt of your order. Thank you for shopping online with us. You should receive the requested items within:
a) one day
b) four days
c) two weeks
d) are you kidding

We acknowledge receipt of your order. Your request cannot be filled at this time because:
a) toilet paper now costs $300 a roll, you are unemployed and your bank account has $298
b) toilet paper with the picture of the face of President Trump is out of stock and by his executive order all production has stopped
c) toilet paper has been declared non-essential 
d) you should just eat less because you're looking a little chubby

We acknowledge receipt of your order. However we refuse to fill it because:
a) you live in New York City
b) you know someone who lives in New York City
c) you once wasted money on seeing "Cats"
d) your SAT score in English was under 650.

We acknowledge receipt of your order. But we have a few questions before we decide if we will fill it:
a) have you ever complained, even to yourself, about our service
b) do you believe in love at first sight
c) have you ever been accused of jaywalking
d) can you name the Presidents in height order

We acknowledge receipt of your order. We are out of stock of 19 of the 20 requested items. However the good news is:
a) we can ship you 12 Halloween masks of Vice President Pence
b) we will be getting in some out of date organic turkey any day
c) we found a box of 80% dark chocolate in the corner of the warehouse
d) we recently changed the striping in the parking lot and got three more spaces

We acknowledge receipt of your order. We think you must have confused us with your mother because:
a) we don't come to your house to make chocolate chip pancakes
b) we don't have time to play Scrabble with you
c) we can't read you a bedtime story
d) we can't figure out where that smell is coming from

We acknowledge receipt of your order. Please stop annoying us because:
a) we went out of business two weeks ago
b) we don't deliver to any zip code starting with a number
c) you voted Republican in the mid-terms
d) your eyes are not deep blue

Thanks again for thinking of us.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Donald Trump Sings the Beatles



The President has now appeared on You Tube singing a series of Beatles songs in response to the current pandemic. The cost to view is your sanity:

1. Helter - Skelter - his handling of the crisis

2. In the End - his message to Governors who challenge him

3. Yesterday - his understanding of how quickly Melania will be gone if he ever tests positive for the virus

4. Yellow Submarine - his new residence until this plague disappears

5. The Long and Winding Road - his retort to those who say he has been slow to deliver desperately needed supplies

6. A Hard Day's Night - his lament when he can't escape to Mar-a-Lago to play golf

7. Carry That Weight- his direction to Dr. Fauci

8. Cry Baby Cry- his conversation with Governor Cuomo

9. Do You Want to Know a Secret - his decision not to inform us of the extent of the problem we face

10. Everybody's Got Something to Hide Cept for Me and My Monkey- his suggestion that we pay attention to his monkey

11. Because - his response to every question "Why"

12. Getting Better (All the Time) - his answer when the numbers keep getting worse

13. Hello, Goodbye - his discussions with the press when they question his actions

14. I Just Don't Understand - his anthem

15. I Want to Hold Your Hand - his belief that this is all a hoax manufactured by China 

16. I'm Looking Through You - his rebuke of  Nancy Pelosi

17. It Won't Be Long - his instruction to those who are told not to leave NYC

18. Let It Be - his true feeling on how best to handle this situation

19. Magical Mystery Tour-  his tutorial on governing

20. Nowhere Man - his leadership crystallized

21. Oh-bla-di, Oh-bla-da - his suggestion that this is all overblown 

22. Run For Your Life- his thoughts on your chance of survival

23. She's Leaving Home - his revelation about Melania after she got a hold of the latest report on the outbreak

24. Ticket to Ride - his reporting of Ivanka's plans to get out of town

25. We Can Work It Out - his stock position when everything goes wrong

Message to Mr. Trump: stop fiddling around while Our Guitar Gently Weeps. It is far past time to just Let It Be. We are all in desperate need of more than A Little Help from Our Friends. Please, please us, oh yeah and  don't be APRIL'S FOOL on the Hill.



Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Home and Bored (music by Paul Simon, lyrics definitely not)


I'm sitting staring at my toes
In an hour I may watch my nose
On my floor I see some dirt
And there's some lint upon my shirt
And every thought fits in my hand
For the outside world to me is banned

Home and bored I know I am
Home and bored
Home, where everything's annoying
Home, where the tv show is cloying
Home, where I realize I'm boring
I've got no place to be

Everyday's the same to me
I've got nothing else to see
And every night laying in my bed
I'm counting sheep inside my head
You're really baa-d I think they said
It's Groundhog Day my brain has fled

Home and bored I know I am
Home and bored
Home, where everything's annoying
Home, where the tv show is cloying
Home, where I realize I'm boring
I've got no place to be

Tonight, I will pretend to read 
But all the words I barely see
And each room's closing in on me
But there is nowhere I can flee
And so I get down on my knees
And pray that one day soon I'll be

Not home and bored for now I am
Home and bored
Home, where everything's annoying
Home, where the tv show is cloying
Home, where I realize I'm boring
But there's nowhere else to flee
I've got no place to be
To be......





  


Monday, March 30, 2020

THREE WORDS THAT STRIKE GRAVE FEAR IN THE HEART: "NEW YORK CITY"

Three words that strike grave fear in the heart: "New York City".

As the President of the United States threatens, and then retreats, from the most absolute form of self isolation (NIOBY- NOT IN OUR BACKYARDS) for anyone who has the great and terrible misfortune to reside in the eye of the storm, so this discussion is repeating itself a thousand times over throughout this nation. 

A thousand NYCs proliferating, if not today then surely tomorrow, throughout the country as the disease settles in and attacks with particular ferocity wherever it chooses.

The "Welcome" sign has been removed and in its place is an image of a skull and crossbones, with a warning, "Do not enter, at the risk of death, OURS".

Is this an act of reasoned self preservation, the belief that should you appear you will not adhere to the rules of self quarantine, you will infect our hamlet, our hospitals will be overrun and we will have lost any hope of survival? 

Or merely an act demonstrating the worst in us, not allowing a fellow human to seek shelter from the storm, informing others that their lives have less value, their actions will undoubtedly be impure, their mere presence in our zip code a pox?

It is a war raging in our local papers and over the Internet. I am residing slightly more than 100 miles from NYC and in this town the battle is being waged with great ferocity. One of our local officials has suggested, in no uncertain terms, that second homeowners whose principal residence is in NYC should definitely, absolutely and in every single instance stay away. Their own homes off limits to them. And for anyone contemplating allowing their house or apartment to serve as an air B&B refuge, think again.

As the numbers mount with frightening speed in NYC, as we learn of refrigerated trucks lining up as make shift morgues, as we are informed that medical supplies may be gone within a week without an influx of help, I can not imagine the level of concern of those who remain in the city. I have friends and relatives there. How would I react if I were one of them, not so politely being informed to stay the F in place?

We are all living in a war zone these days. And if we are not on the front lines today, we may be in the days to follow, whether or not anyone from the NYC's throughout this land appear. And should that happen, and we find ourselves in a hot pocket how would we respond if we were the ones for whom the skull and crossbones was intended?

This is the poster child of an existential crisis. And it poses some very difficult questions about the very essence of our being.

I welcome your response. Your answers will not be graded. Not by me anyway.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

A MAN OF (RE)ACTION

He does not act but react. In a crisis it is the underlying predicate for the worst of all outcomes.

This is what happens when you are unprepared for the urgency of the moment. Donald Trump has wasted his presidency, refusing to do his homework and deconstructing those agencies that could serve him best in moments of ultimate stress.

And so, with this virus spreading across this nation, he heard only the voice in his own head when confronted with the possibility that we would one day look like Wuhan. He did not see it for what it was, did not understand it for what it could be and did not have the remotest idea of what he should and must do.

The actions he took did nothing to form a firewall. And the result is that we have city after city now in a mad dash to slow this virus before it inundates them, their hospitals nearly overwhelmed, their doctors and nurses on the precipice between their own life and death, ventilators in as short supply as toilet paper, testing only now ramping up, while the sickest pray merely that someone is there to attend to them. 

We are saddled with a President armed with nothing but his hubris, responding with woeful inadequacy to a disease that is not at all interested in his nonsense, not deterred by his useless banter.

He cannot intimidate Coronavirus. It will not be scared away by tariffs, by a Wall, by an executive order not to enter. It will not be restricted by state boundaries. It will not agree to vacate by Easter. It does not care about "The Art of the Deal". It did not watch "The Apprenctice". It will not be stopped by presidential fiat.

And if we survive this plague upon us, it will be despite the worst efforts of Donald Trump. 

A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Particularly his. Especially now.

GAME THREE, MARCH 29,2020 CAMDEN YARDS, BALTIMORE, MD.


The 1982 Braves and the '87 Brewers each started the season with 13 straight victories. The Yankees will not threaten the record this year.

After the boys from the Bronx began the campaign with two easy wins against a squad that reminds one of the Kansas City A's, who served as a punching bag for the Bombers of a half century ago, the O's of Baltimore dominated 11 to 3 in today's contest. 

JA Happ was hapless, unable to complete three innings of work, seven Orioles successfully rounding the bases during his truncated tenure on the mound.

Actually, there was a team that went undefeated through an entire season. The Cincinnati Red Stockings in 1869 had 57 wins and the same number of losses as Rocky Marciano suffered in his professional boxing career. But, even as old as I am, that team played before my time, and I can not name one member of that squad. 150 years distance can do that to even the most dominating performances.

It seemed a little more like the players, and the fans, had settled back into their routines after the surge of emotion that accompanied the first two contests. The longest and harshest winter this nation has ever endured receding ever so slightly into the background

While games one and two were played to a packed stadium, today the crowd was nearly 12,000 short of capacity. And the comments of the players afterwards focused much more on the "X's and O's" than on the emotion of being on the field.

"My fastball was nothing and the rest of my pitches were worse", Happ reported. When advised of the stats of his performance, he merely responded "Garbage in, garbage out."

It is refreshing actually to be talking about frailities and imperfections in baseball, to be looking at the weather report to see how many layers of clothes will be required at the next stop, to check the standings to see who has come best prepared for the battles at hand. To feel the rhythm and the heartbeat of the sport as it goes about its business.

And so, at two wins and one loss the Yankees are looking up at only one team in their division, the Sox of Boston. It is good to feel that sense of hatred for the Beantowners surging through my veins. 


Baseball is back.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

GAME TWO, MARCH 28, 2020 (MY DAD'S BIRTHDAY)

My father would have been 102 years old today.

As a young boy growing up in the 1950's and 60's, my dad was my hero. Actually, that is not the truth. I had two heroes, my dad and The Mick. 

Mickey Mantle was a product of the gods. His strength was herculean. He wore the wings of Hermes on his feet. He could beat you with a bunt or a 500 foot blast. He could track down every ball the batter mistakenly believed was destined for glory and would gun you down if you dared to challenge the lightning in his arm. He was the handsomest of men, with a smile to steal your heart.


Only later in my life would I learn he was also a person of many failings and that I had long been worshipping a false God.

But my dad never faltered. Until his dying day, at 61 years of age, he remained ever the same person I idolized from my first memories. A brilliant man, a success in his chosen field of work, a devoted husband, he was a father who gave all of himself, all of the time to two children who never, ever lacked certainty they were deeply and completely loved every moment of every day.

Sports was a particular bond for me and my dad, both of us natural athletes, both of us drawn to competition and both with a particular passion for baseball.

My most constant companion growing up was my mitt. It followed me everywhere and anywhere I went. And as my dad rushed home from work on countless days just to have a catch with me or to throw me a few pitches to hit, our lives coalesced around this game. Our backyard serving as home plate and pitcher's mound for an unbreakable alliance.


Our travels together to Yankee Stadium were like taking day trips to heaven. And when my dad caught a ball that Berra hit, well almost 50 years later it is still my favorite possession. As long as it remains with me, so does my dad.

Game two of this most welcome season took place in Baltimore today. And my team again prevailed, this time by a count of 9 to 2. Masahiro Tanaka threw an impeccable five innings, striking out 8 O's and not allowing a single runner to arrive safely even one quarter of the way around the 360 foot diamond. Gleybar Torres homered for the second consecutive game. And, at least for one more day, 162 wins seems a distinct possibility.


But today belonged to the memory of my dad and to the game that meant so much to that little boy with two heroes.


Thursday, March 26, 2020

GAME ONE

It lasted for seven minutes..


Before the first note of the National Anthem had pierced the air, the roar of the crowd commenced. And when they reached "and the home of the brave" the ovation only intensified. It was a statement of our resolve, our relief, our recognition that it was now safe to come out, safe to become a fan again, safe to look forward without looking back over your shoulder.



The drama of the moment clearly affected the players on both teams, then situated along the first and third base lines in the tradition of Opening Day. And in the next instant, one of the most startling events I have ever witnessed in over six decades of watching this game occurred. The players broke ranks and the two teams congregated as one near home plate. They shook hands and many embraced, some even openly weeping. And the cheering of the fans exploded, as, from their seats, they joined hands and hearts with those they had come to see.


It was the most striking declaration that what was about to unfold was only a game, and that those standing on the field had together survived a most terrible war of attrition. These were not enemies, but united warriors who had beaten back a common foe. And no matter what would happen in the coming hours, weeks and months as the balls and strikes, hits and runs, wins and losses separated one group of men from another, a common bond had been forged both permanent and unbreakable.

Afterwards, once the contest had concluded (which, by the way, the boys from the Bronx won, 6 runs to 3, Gerritt Cole pitching five innings of one run ball, the Bombers belting four solo home runs, one each for LeMahieu, Torres, Voit and Andujar, he in a pinch hitting role in his first toe dipping in the water in almost a year) all the discussion focused not on the statistics but on the feelings of those who had participated.

Aaron Boone said it felt surreal to be back in the dugout. "It was as though I was not a manager but someone watching as a most extraordinary event unfolded. Not moving chess pieces around for I was far too distracted, my mind focused on how grateful I was to be alive and to have the privilege to be back among this group. I didn't want this game to end, no matter the score."

Aaron Judge said his aching ribs felt much better, any pain masked by the adrenaline that surged through his body the moment he stepped onto the field for pre-game introductions. "The only ache I felt was in not being able to participate" as he bided his time on the 10 day disabled list. "I so wanted to be out there, good, bad or indifferent. I just wanted to be out there."


And the rest who were interviewed all echoed one another, the victory or defeat being mere footnote. All giving thanks just for the opportunity to be back where they belonged when, for so long, that goal seemed so far out of reach.

Many spoke of friends or family members who had suffered through the plague that had ravaged the nation. Almost all with a tale to tell of how someone they knew had either had a close brush with death or had succumbed to a relentless, brutal enemy. None were left untouched.

Conversation about strike zones, about pitch counts and pitch outs, about the trials and tribulations of trying to read and react to a 92 MPH slider in less than half a second would have to wait until tomorrow.

Today, it was enough that Game One was now in the books.

It was ok, once more, to be alive. 

We are all going to be just fine.


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Opening Day - March 26, 2020 - 3:05 PM - Baltimore, Maryland - New York Yankees vs Baltimore Orioles

First pitch is less than 48 hours away.

The terrible tragedies inflicted upon us by the Coronavirus from the first reported case in this country on November 14, 2019, drove this country to its knees, put our lives on indefinite hold, and gave us a future of frightening uncertainty. But now, over four months later, the decimation has abated, the horror has receded and we are advised that we have the authority and the capacity to resume our regularly scheduled life.

And thus we welcome baseball into our homes with outstetched arms and a passion that reaches into our soul, as deep as a bottomless ocean, as strong as the first sight of a newborn baby. It is a birth, or at least a rebirth. We have come out of the shadows, emerging from the endless desperately dark winter and headed directly into the bright sunlight of America's game.


Spring training was but one of the innumerable casualties of this horrific virus. Only in the past five days have the teams been given permission to assemble, At that time, the Commissioner of baseball announced that, for the urgent need of repairing our national psyche as rapidly as possible, the start of the regular reason would not be delayed.

In his statement, Rob Manfred  informed an anxiously awaiting public that "the soreness in the bodies of the players pales in comparison with the heaviness that is lifting from all our hearts. Let there be the sound of bat against ball.  Let there be the  sight of stolen bases and massive home runs. Let there be arguments with umpires. Let there be the certainty that this game is here for you, as this nation's constant companion, day after day and month after month. Let there be rivalries. Let there be slumps and streaks. Let there be packed stadiums and loud noise from one end of this great country to the other. Let the games begin."

And so, at 3:05 PM on this Thursday, at Camden Yards, in Baltimore, Maryland, my beloved Yankees will begin their quest for that ever elusive 28th World Championship. And while their path has been blocked in recent times by the Houston Astericks, they have pried from their enemy's fingers their most prized possession, one Gerritt Cole. It took a mere $324 million dollars for Mr. Cole to shear his locks, shave his beard and move east. And on the 26th of March, 2020, it is fervently hoped that he begins to pay dividends on the team's most consequential investment.

Due to the disappearance of spring training, Commissioner Manfred has permitted each team to house thirty players on their roster, instead of the normal  twenty five, for the first thirty days of the season. Pitch counts will be shorter and an army of pitchers will be shuttled in and out of games until the cobwebs are removed. With the expanded numbers, the Yankees will now count an impressive seventeen pitchers on their opening day roster. 

And here, for those of you who have been longing for what seems an eternity to focus on anything other than the one thing we were all fixated upon, is my team, the one that will travel through 2020 without a blemish, destined, if there is a God, to breathe life back into New York City after it has lived, and far too often died, in the center of the storm.

Catchers - Gary Sanchez and Kyle Higashika

First Base - Luke Voit and Mike Ford

Second Base - DJ Lemahieu

Shortstop - Gleybar Torres

Third Base - Gio Urshela and Miguel Andujar

Outfield - Clint Frazier, Brett Gardner, Mike Tauchman 
(the actual outfield of Mike Stanton, Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks will be watching all of this unfold from a distance, marooned on the disabled list until I decide they are ready to play)

Utility - Tyler Wade and Thaise Estrada

Starting Pitchers - Gerritt Cole, Masahira Tanaka, JA Happ, Jordan Montgomery, Jonathan Loaisaga 
(Luis Severino collecting his money while on the sideline all year, James Paxton appearing when I tire of watching Jordan Montgomery struggle and Domingo German in domestic violence purgatory for the foreseeable future)

Relievers -Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Luis Cessa, Chad Greene, Jonathan Holder, Tommy Kahnle, Adam Ottavino, David Hale, Delvi Garcia, Ben Heller, Michael King, Nick Nelson and Carl Schmidt

I have the smell of a new leather mitt and the feel of an untouched baseball set firmly in my mind. 

And as a country, severely wounded but now on the mend, as nearly 330 million who have seen Hell close up, as each one of us is for the first time in what feels like forever able to recall what it is like to smile and not fear tomorrow, it is finally, finally, finally our time to get up, get out of our seats, walk over to the window and shout at the top of our lungs:

PLAY BALL