“There are three things in my life which I really love: God, my family, and baseball. The only problem – once baseball season starts I change the order around a bit.” – Al Gallagher
I miss baseball. I’ve always loved and defended my country as the greatest, freest nation on earth. I realize that some of those liberties have been under attack for a quite a while now. Since a large portion of our country is now hostile to God and capitalism, the rights I have always feared being taken away were those having to do with religious and economic liberty. I never thought I’d have to worry about my right to play baseball being taken away. Heck, even Cuba loves baseball. But alas, here I am, a modern day “Shoeless Joe” Jackson, banned from playing ball. (More on “Shoeless Joe” later.)
In my depressed state I started thinking about a comparison that I keep hearing about, the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. The only year I can think of where there was no World Series was the strike year in 1994, so how did baseball handle the Spanish Flu and how does it compare to the coronavirus? I learned a lot of interesting facts about both. Here are six of them.
- The 1918 season actually was shortened, but not because of the pandemic. The World Series was moved up to the beginning of September so that players could go off to fight in World War 1.
- During the first wave of the pandemic Babe Ruth caught the flu and almost died. It’s crazy to think how different baseball history would have been had Ruth died and never become a Yankee. Instead, he recovered and this was the first year that the Babe, still primarily a pitcher, got to play the field and hit on some of the days he wasn’t pitching. In that part-time role, he led the league in home runs.
- Ruth’s Red Sox won the 1918 World Series. The next year they would trade him to the Yankees and not win another title for 86 years.
- The Spanish flu, for obvious hygienic reasons, was one of the major factors in baseball banning the spit ball.
- This brings us back to “Shoeless Joe.” There are now rumors, that the 1919 “Black Sox” were not the first team to throw the World Series. The 1918 Cubs had the best record in baseball and there is talk that they threw that year’s World Series.
- The biggest lesson I learned with regards to comparing the Spanish Flu to coronavirus is that the comparison isn’t even fair. The Spanish Flu was far worse. It killed young, healthy people at a high rate. Two big league players died from the Spanish Flu, Larry Chappell and Harry Glenn. The NHL actually did have to end the Stanley Cup Finals in a 2-2 tie because so many of the Montreal Canadiens got sick they didn’t have enough players to play. NHL Hall of Famer Joe Hall died. 675,000 Americans died when the population was only 103 million. In fact, in the entire history of our country, 1918 is the only year where our population declined. Right now we’re at around 328 million and steadily growing. The coronavirus is barely a blip on the radar.
This whole thing has only cemented my opinion that we are overreacting. When the media started throwing out names of athletes with coronavirus to scare people, I said that athletes get sick all the time. Hysterical people told me, “But this is different.” I said, “Fine. If Kevin Durant dies, I’ll take your side.” I’m pleased to say the NBA star survived.
As I pointed out in my last post, the odds of dying from coronavirus are slim to none. We should not be cowering in our homes over something that is likely about 1/25th as dangerous as the Spanish Flu. We should be booing the Houston Astros right now. In fact, those cheaters should be forced to play without masks, closer than six feet apart from each other, next to the dirty trashcans that they used to bang on.
One final thought. Game 1 of the 1918 World Series was the first time the Star Spangled Banner was played before a game. It made me consider, could Colin Kaepernick have been right? After all, how can I keep a straight face when I hear “the land of the free and the home of the brave” when we are certainly neither anymore? My conclusion? Of course not. Kaepernick is just as wrong as ever. I still respect our history. When I hear that line I’ll be frustrated that it’s a thing of the past, but I’ll still honor those values and the men who fought for them. Our founding fathers risked everything to set up a government that recognizes that our rights aren’t given by them, but are endowed by our creator. They chose to fight for liberty even though it meant almost certain death if the British won. Now we voluntarily give up our liberty over something that has almost no chance of killing us. It is disappointing, but there is still a small remnant of Americans who value liberty which, at least for me, has to include baseball. Play ball!