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New Year- Same Lockout

The Off-Season: New Year- Same Lockout

by Tim Kabel

January 1, 2022

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We are now officially in calendar year 2022. Think about it. We are almost a quarter of the way through the century. Remember when the world was in a tizzy as we entered the 21st century? All that nonsense about Y2K? The whole world was panicked that all the computer systems and everything else would shut down. I remember at my job they put a committee together to prepare for whatever crisis occurred. They selected the most out of touch, computer illiterate, befuddled but, lovable people they could find. Thankfully, we sailed right into the year 2000 with no trouble whatsoever. We look back at those days longingly now, considering what we are dealing with today.

We drag ourselves into 2022 with almost two full years of pandemic fighting under our belts. It does not appear that it will end anytime soon. It is as if we are in one of the Terminator movies with this never-ending war. Except, we’re not fighting against Arnold Schwarzenegger or a bunch of robots, we’re fighting against a disease that keeps mutating and changing. Many people, weary of fighting it and following protocols have simply determined that it is over. I say to them what I often say to the adolescents I work with, “just because you want something to happen, doesn’t necessarily mean it will.”

As if living in the uncertain times of COVID was not bad enough, baseball fans now have to deal with lingering lockout. Hopefully, it won’t last as long as the pandemic but, it has effectively removed one of our diversions from us. We can’t have meaningful or realistic hot stove discussions and debates the way we normally would, because the stove is cold. There is no wood in it and no prospect of a spark anytime soon.

Many of us convinced ourselves that 2021 would be much better than 2020, and that the pandemic was in fact, over. Again, just because you want something to happen, doesn’t necessarily mean it will. I can wish that I look like Brad Pitt all day long but in the end, I will look like his much less successful brother, Armand, or Arm for short. (it’s a good thing I didn’t make refraining from puns one of my New Year’s resolutions). At this point, 2021 has proven to be in many ways, worse than 2020. Most of us will happily punt this year away and embrace 2022 with hope and anticipation. We all say that it will have to be better than 2021. Again, just because you want something to happen, doesn’t necessarily mean it will.

I’m not opposed to optimism or being hopeful. On the contrary, those who know me well consider me to be one of the most optimistic people they’ve ever met. I could find a silver lining in a storm of locusts. Therefore, I am hopeful that this new year will be better than the last. I know that eventually the tide will turn in the pandemic and the lockout will end. There will be baseball at some point, hopefully soon. At this point, all we lost was December. Thankfully, we had Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and other celebrations and holidays to keep us busy. (By the way, I have to admit that on Christmas Eve, I saw a fat man with a beard filling the stockings in my living room. I have a mirror over the fireplace so, it was inevitable.) Well, December is over.

We are entering January, which is usually when we fans really start to get ready for the upcoming season. The final deals are struck; the team is fully constructed and in about six weeks, the most magical words of all reach our ears, “pitchers and catchers report to spring training.” When I was younger, I always wanted to be a pitcher or a catcher, so I could report to spring training. Well, it never happened. As an adult, I now hope that one day Monica Bellucci will ring my doorbell and walk into my house with a tray full of cannoli. That is not very likely either but, I can hope.

If the lockout ends early in January, it will have caused little lasting damage. However, if it drags into what I like to refer to as the dog days of winter, things could get pretty messy. The players and the owners have to know this, If I do. They must realize that the last thing they need during a pandemic is to alienate their fans by bickering or even worse, not negotiating. It is in everybody’s best interest to get this thing settled quickly. I firmly believe that it will be resolved fairly soon. It would be extremely foolish for the players and owners to drag this on and delay the beginning of the season.

I’m convinced that on every level, 2022 will be better than 2021. All you need to know about 2021 was that in its final gasp, it robbed us of both John Madden and Betty White. There is a bitterness and cruelty to Betty White’s passing in that she died about two weeks before her 100th birthday. There was going to be a national jubilee in her honor. That is like driving from Maine to California and having your car break down six miles from the Pacific Ocean.

So, as we enter 2022, I believe it will be a brighter year than 2021. The lockout will end, the pandemic will fall under control, and it will be a great year for all of us. I have to go now. I think Monica Bellucci is at my door with a tray full of cannoli. I would not say to her, “leave the gun, bring the cannoli.” Instead, I would say, “have a seat, bring the cannoli.”

Happy New Year to all.

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