As my wife and I were raising our family, our vacations primarily consisted of a week in Ocean City and an occasional “big” trip such as Disney or New England. Since we have retired, we very much enjoy traveling each year around our nation and occasionally other countries. Twice, we have flown to Europe and experienced river cruising with Viking. Last year, we explored the Four Corners area of America, visiting seven national parks. Usually, around October of each year, I begin to scroll through our Rand McNally atlas to indulge our wanderlust and think about destinations that would make a great vacation. I try to coordinate our trips in the United States with a baseball park on the itinerary.
This year, baseball and Viking were both on our travel plans. It has been five years since we have been to Baltimore Orioles spring training in Sarasota. So with the “Baby Birds” helping to rebuild the team, we decided to see the Orioles rework in progress. This year was to be a great travel year as we planned both spring training and a Viking ocean cruise to Italy. Needless to say, Baltimore Orioles spring training struck out, and the Viking cruise around Italy is in the bottom of the ninth, two outs, a three-two count and Mariano Rivera pitching.
We decided to cancel our Sarasota trip more than a week before our scheduled departure. We had not canceled our baseball tickets when Major League Baseball acted first. Our refunds are already on the way. Though relatively painless dealing with Southwest and Holiday Inn, it was depressing knowing we would not make the Twin Lakes practice fields, Ed Smith Stadium and Captain Curt’s Restaurant. My wife is always very organized. We were already packed and ready to go. Today, the unpacking is disheartening. Based on the present state of affairs in Italy, our Viking trip later this year is almost certain to become void. My wife and I are disappointed that we will miss a year of travel. But we are lucky.
To many, COVID-19 means loss of income, and to some, it will mean a loss of life. Our nation will most likely suffer a significant number of citizens stricken with COVID-19. Drastic measures have been implemented to help “flatten the curve” to avoid a medical catastrophe with our health care system. If the measures are not enforced, the outbreak will certainly expand exponentially, potentially having a disastrous effect on our country. One such outbreak of a relatively “new” virus strain in our country just over 100 years ago demonstrates the need to be aggressive with the “new” deadly virus strain today.
The 1918 H1N1 “Spanish flu” outbreak was estimated to have killed more than 600,000 in the United States alone. Since that time, the population of our country has grown by tens of millions and mobility of our citizens has condensed our country. Our scientific and medical communities have developed the methodology to help curtail a massive outbreak like those that have happened in the past. We all know the actions limiting travel, canceling schools, eliminating most assembly and closing some businesses will be a tremendous burden. But the health and welfare of our nation are the priority.
So, here we are, the first weekend of no baseball, no basketball, no football, no soccer, no golf, no bowling, no NASCAR, no curling or live sports of any kind on television. I fondly remember the days of a very few black-and-white Orioles games on TV. Growing up, I would look forward to Chuck Thompson doing play-by-play on a rare televised Orioles game, a real treat.
We have become numb to an almost constant explosion of live sports programs nearly every evening and weekend. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy watching certain sports, especially baseball. In fact, I didn’t realize how much I actually watched sports until the live TV sports blackout. To help “flatten the curve,” our fast-paced lives have just been downshifted to neutral.
Clarence “Chip” Jewell is a Frederick native. He and his wife, Kathy, are lifelong Orioles fans and enjoy visiting baseball parks during their travels around the country.