“The Idea of Florida During a Winter Thaw,” by Gail Mazur

This piece makes me want to go back in time a few months — back to the last days of winter as Spring Training was just getting underway and the threat of the coronavirus still seemed too far away to be of any concern.

*sigh*

We’ll get it back next year.

*

Late February, and the air’s so balmy
snowdrops and crocuses might be fooled
into early blooming. Then, the inevitable blizzard
will come, blighting our harbingers of spring,
and the numbed yards will go back undercover.
In Florida, it’s strawberry season—
shortcake, waffles, berries and cream
will be penciled on the coffeeshop menus.

In Winter Haven, the ballplayers are stretching
and preening, dancing on the basepaths,
giddy as good kids playing hookey. Now,
for a few weeks, statistics won’t seem
to matter, for the flushed boys are muscular
and chaste, lovely as lakes to the retired men
watching calisthenics from the grandstands.
Escapees from the cold work of living,

the old men burnish stories of Yaz and the Babe
and the Splendid Splinter. For a few dreamy dollars,
they sit with their wives all day in the sun,
on their own little seat cushions, wearing soft caps
with visors. Their brave recreational vehicles
grow hot in the parking lot, though they’re
shaded by live oaks and bottlebrush trees
whose soft bristles graze the top-racks.

At four, the spectators leave in pairs, off
to restaurants for Early Bird Specials.
A salamander scuttles across the quiet
visitors’ dugout. The osprey whose nest is atop
the foul pole relaxes. She’s raged all afternoon
at balls hit again and again toward her offspring.
Although December’s frost killed the winter crop,
there’s a pulpy orange-y smell from juice factories….

Down the road, at Cypress Gardens, a woman
trainer flips young alligators over on their backs,
demonstrating their talent for comedy—stroke
their bellies, they’re out cold, instantaneously
snoozing. A schoolgirl on vacation gapes,
wonders if she’d ever be brave enough
to try that, to hold a terrifying beast
and turn it into something cartoon-funny.

She stretches a hand toward the toothy sleeper
then takes a step back, to be safe as she reaches.


No crying

I know the whole situation with COVID-19 and the suspension of baseball has us all down in the dumps right now, and learning of Tom Hanks’s positive diagnosis with the virus isn’t helping matters.  I’m struggling with the state of things myself these days, not just as far as baseball is concerned, but also in how this situation has impacted so many other areas of my life, and I’m certainly not alone in that.

So in an effort to help myself and anyone else who needs it to keep our chins up, here is Tom Hanks as Jimmy Dugan to remind us that there is no crying in baseball.


MLB suspending operations

This just in: Major League Baseball has announced that they are canceling the remainder of Spring Training.  The start of the 2020 regular season is also being pushed back.

Thanks a lot, COVID-19.