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When people talk about baseball players tossing their bats, they’re usually referring to a player’s celebratory bat flip after he hits a home run. But Marlins outfielder Jazz Chisholm Jr. had some major bat-tossing issues during yesterday’s game against the Mets — and he did it without even making contact with the baseball.
The shenanigans started in the top of the third, when Chisholm was batting and worked the count to 3-0. Believing the next pitch was ball four, he tossed his bad aside as soon as the pitch whizzed by and began unbuckling his shinguard, only to have plate umpire Jeff Nelson call the pitch a strike. That led to an awkward sequence in which Chisholm had to retrieve his bat, rebuckle his shinguard, and get back in the box. Then, incredibly, the entire process repeated itself on the next pitch, as Chisholm, again believing he’d just received a free pass, tossed his bat before Nelson could make the call — which, like the previous pitch, turned out to be a strike:
But there was more to come. After working another 3-2 count in the top of the seventh, Chisholm again thought he’d received ball four, again tossed his bat without waiting for Nelson’s call, and the the pitch was again called a strike. This time, Chisholm’s reaction got him ejected:
This is all so juvenile. I get that modern players like to be flashy, but does even working out a walk have to be performative? Why can’t Chisholm just wait a beat for the ump to make his call instead of tossing his bat the moment the ball goes by? If he did that, well, he still might not agree with every call, but at least he wouldn’t be showing up the ump, which would probably earn him a lot more goodwill down the road.
In another player/ump equipment interaction yesterday, umpire Bill Miller told Yankees pitcher Nestor Cortes to black out the white “44” maker’s mark on his glove, apparently because Miller thought the white mark might distract the batter:
So someone in the Yankees dugout broke out a black Sharpie and went to work:
Here’s how it looked the following inning:
The incident led to at least one good quip:
Breaking: Nestor Cortes is being forced to shave his mustache between innings because it’s “too sexy on the mound and is a distraction to opposing batters” 😳👀 pic.twitter.com/gEn3pVdrQr
Had to include this one because it’s so meta — a can on a can! Not sure why they chose to go that route, but it’s definitely noteworthy!
What Paul Did on Saturday
My mom turned 99 yesterday (!). Since yesterday was also Easter, my brother and I took her out for lunch on Saturday to avoid the holiday crush. It was a very, very good day.
We didn’t even tell the restaurant that it was her birthday, but they must have heard us talking, because they brought her a scoop of ice cream with a single candle, which was very nice of them:
Whenever I post anything about my mom, people respond with comments like “Beautiful!” and “She’s amazing!” and “Good genes!” and “How inspiring!” All of that is true, of course, and I genuinely appreciate the positive outpouring. But I also feel like it’s time for a bit of a reality check, because a few nice birthday photos don’t tell the full story.
So: My mom would be the first to tell you that living to 99 is no gift. Her mind is still in reasonably good shape, but it’s stuck inside an increasingly dysfunctional body. She doesn’t have any conditions that are life-threatening, but she has several that cause pain, discomfort, and embarrassment, so life is a daily chore.
She moves slowly and painfully, with a walker. She can’t really go anywhere or do anything except to eat out occasionally, as we did yesterday — it’s a very limited existence. She’s always been flummoxed by technology, so she doesn’t use the internet or even have a cell phone. Her eyes are still good, so she can read (I give her my copies of The New Yorker as I finish them), but she says she has an increasingly difficult time concentrating, so books and long articles are challenging.
She’s been widowed for 14 years now. She has outlived all of her friends. She has no grandchildren or other extended family — just my brother and me — so it’s a very lonely existence.
She spends most days just watching TV (which she knows is toxic) and checking the clock to see if the day is over already. The assisted-living facility where she lives has some activities, but most of the other residents are in worse shape, physically and mentally, than she is, so the activities tend to be extremely rudimentary, like something you’d do for young children. (I don’t blame the facility at all — the staff is doing the best they can, and they were positively heroic during the depths of the pandemic.)
She’s grateful to have had such a long life but is also ready for it to be over. She feels her existence is no longer productive or purposeful and thinks it’s silly for so many resources to be expended on her. (At one point she wanted to refuse the Covid vaccine because she thought it should be saved for younger people, but we convinced her to take it.) She’s not religious or spiritual, so she doesn’t view any of this as “God’s will” or “meant to be.” She just thinks it’s pointless.
She refers to elder care as “the system” and “a racket,” and says, both admiringly and wistfully, that her husband — my father — “beat the racket” when he died in 2009 at the age of 85. She never expected to live this long without him. She’s terrified of a painful death but would welcome a peaceful one, probably as soon as tonight. She has occasionally inquired about states where assisted suicide is legal, and each time I’ve had to explain to her that she doesn’t qualify because she doesn’t have a terminal illness. “Well, that’s stupid,” she says. (I doubt she’d actually go through with it anyway, but I think she’d feel better if she had options to choose from, just so she had some sense of agency.)
Here’s the most awkward part: She still has a strong maternal instinct, so it’s very important to her that she leaves something in her will for me and my brother — her final act of parental nurturing, and one of the few things she feels she still has control over. But she’s also acutely aware that the longer she lives, the less she’ll have remaining to leave to us. My financial planning doesn’t assume any inheritance — in part because there may be nothing left, and in part because I think of her as my mom, not as a potential windfall — but I understand how important that final gesture is to her, so I take it as seriously as all the other issues I’m listing here.
All of this is beyond heartbreaking. And I say that knowing that Mom is in a far, far better situation than many other elderly people, including many of my friends’ parents and probably some of yours. She’s lucky, and so am I, at least compared to some of the alternatives, but I’m not sure there’s a good way to be 99 in our world. It really makes me think about how we deal with the elderly, about what I want for the final chapters of my own life, about quantity of life vs. quality of life, about family, and many other things.
Sorry if this was a downer, and thanks for listening. Despite all of this, Saturday really was a very good day, and Mom enjoyed it very much. The reality, though, is more complicated — not just for her, or for me, but for all of us, because we’ve gotten really good at extending people’s lifespans, which is an impressive accomplishment, but we aren’t yet so good at figuring out how to make those extra years happy and meaningful. It’s a real conundrum.
Chisholm’s antics are akin to the receivers in football that feel the need to drop the football as they cross the goal line instead of just holding it for one more second. The refs are eager to review it in hopes of being able to overturn the touchdown as Nelson is eager in this case to put Chisholm in his place.
If Jeff Nelson had been eager to put Chisholm in his place, he would have dumped him after the first time he did it. Instead, he gave him a chance to stop doing it. A chance Chisholm didn’t take.
Bill and Paul- it’s not a fair assessment of the situation to only apply blame to Jazz. While I agree that waiting a second would yield a better result for him, certainly there’s some culpability assigned to the man behind the plate. A bruised ego shouldn’t be the cause of an altered performance, or even, the outcome of a game. Behavior like the ump’s is why people want robot umps.
I don’t entirely disagree, but I also don’t really care about the ump’s performance from a Uni Watch perspective, because that’s not an aesthetic issue — it’s a performance issue.
Chisholm’s behavior is an aesthetic issue, so that’s what I wrote about.
It’s both sad and understandable that your mother feels the way she does but a near-century of life is impressive for certain. Today would have been my dad’s 83rd, and he has been gone for more than 5 years already. May she enjoy the time she has.
As bad as Chisholm’s attitude might be, he got jobbed on those pitches. They were outside the strike zone.
And Paul, my grandparents are in a similar position as your mother with the loneliness. They’ve outlived almost all their friends, and aren’t making new friends at the facility where they live, because their short-term memory isn’t good anymore. I selfishly want that generation to live as long as possible; we have so much to learn from them.
“As bad as Chisholm’s attitude might be, he got jobbed on those pitches. They were outside the strike zone.”
Umps have been making bad calls for 150 years. Some react differently than others.
Not defending nor impugning Chisholm, but it’s not like this is the first time a bad call has ever been made. And I’m pretty sure throughout its history, when you *argue* ball and strike calls and/or show up the ump, you’re going to get run.
Pitched he got tossed after was a strike. Jobbed himself.
Your comments on your mom are not a downer; they are honest, heart felt, and well thought out. It is a difficult conversation that not only families need to have, but one that society at large needs to have.
Paul, I know a bit about your complicated feelings about your mother and her advanced age. My grandfather (who was as paternal a figure to me as anyone) died five and a half years ago at 103. He too had his mind almost entirely intact (and a great mind it was; he invented the ear-piercing gun, after all), but his body was in some tough shape for the last few years of his life.
He was widowed for eleven years, and had never imagined he would be. By his late 90s, all of his peers and those of his generation in our family were gone, and we’d started to lose some from the next generation. Every time someone he knew died, he mourned, but also lamented that it hadn’t been ‘his turn.’ He was the patriarch of a broad extended family, and I think there was a part of him that couldn’t bear the thought of not being able to keep helping people.
While my story is not the same as yours, of course, I remember how I felt in his final years, and your story really brought that back. I obviously had very complicated feels when he died. I don’t think I’ve stopped mourning him as strongly as I did when he died, but I have found a half-measure of peace in the thought that his final wish finally came true.
I don’t mean to hijack your (bitter)sweet and moving story about your mother; I just wanted to let you know that I very much empathize. Be well.
Absolutely no to apologize, Jonas. I’m well aware that my situation is not unique — probably closer to universal — so I welcome people sharing their own experiences. All best to you and your family.
Thanks, Paul, both for your kind words and again for the story/update. I hope that your family is well as well. While many of us look to sport and sport-adjacent esoterica as an escape from regular life, it’s important to remember that we are a part of a community (as you often rightfully say), and shared humanity strengthens that.
To pivot to less-bittersweet stuff, if you’d ever like to talk about the ear-piercing gun, get in touch; I know you like weird devices. (The Brannock Device comes to mind, as a Syracuse native.)
My wife’s grandfather passed two weeks ago. He was 92. Back around Christmas time he told my wife that he wished he could just go peacefully in his sleep soon. At first it blew my mind because, like your mom, he was still very sharp in mind. But I started thinking about how he had been a widower for 16 years and how all of his friends and siblings had also already passed. His body had just continued to deteriorate over the years and he once told me, “You don’t know what it’s like to not be able to do things for yourself when you were once the person that everyone relied on to get things done for them”. All the things that you contemplated about your mom, I’ve been contemplating regarding him since December. The quantity of life vs the quality of life argument. We were very thankful for the long amount of time that we had with him, but also thankful that he did indeed go peacefully two weeks ago.
Two completely separate thoughts this morning, Paul:
–I don’t see how a player tossing his bat is all that different than a catcher framing a pitch or the catcher and a pitcher appealing a check swing. It’s all nonverbal communication in an attempt to sway a borderline call in their direction. Of course, with all of these, you risk taking it too far and getting on the umpire’s bad side. All this to say, I’m not sure it’s fair to blame this on modern players showboating. I don’t really see this as any better or worse than, say, Derek Jeter selling to the umpire that he was hit by a pitch when the ball missed him by a few inches.
–I appreciate your sharing all the mixed emotions about your mom. My family is going through a similar time with my grandfather. I’m 37 and am grateful that all four of my grandparents are alive, but my mom’s father is in his late 90s and struggling physically. He loves cars and motorcycles and travelling–he even owned a small plane for a while–but those days are behind him, and I know he struggles with that. He’s an extrovert who thrives on social experiences, and I know these last few years have been very tough on him. Sending you and your family good thoughts!
Paul – Thank you for sharing your comments about your mom. It’s an aspect of aging we don’t hear enough about. Our society does not handle death well so we do everything we can to avoid it, even if it’s at the detriment of the person who may be dying. It’s not just old age, either. I can be life support systems in a hospital, etc. I wish your mom, brother and you peace for whatever the future brings.
I have wildly different thoughts on today’s lead. 1st, the baseball stuff.
I’m not usually bothered by a little celebration in baseball. Do something awesome and you should be able to celebrate a little. But after the fist pitch was called a strike, Chisholm should have known better. At some point, it’s going to feel like he’s showing up the umpire, and whether or not anyone agrees, that’s never been a good idea in baseball. It’s a part of the game, for good or ill.
Reading through the part about your mom, I have wildly conflicting emotions, Paul. On one hand, I can 100% understand how she feels. My own mother felt much the same after my father passed. By that point, she had buried her own father, step-father, father-in-law, and 4 siblings. When I spoke to her last, she was taking herself off of ventilation, knowing that shoe would live no more that a few days. I asked her if that was what she wanted. And with mutual tears, I told her that I understood and would make sure everyone abided by her decision. That was six years ago, and the selfish man that I am misses her every day and wishes she would have kept fighting. But I try ro be better. And I can’t truly fathom what that must have been like.
Treasure the time you still have.
You could’ve been referring to my grandma in that post.
She was 103 when she died of covid in late 2021, and let me tell you she was ready to go. Her mind was still amazingly sharp, but she couldn’t get around like she used to and started feeling like the one thing she feared she’d become: a burden.
She was in quarantine the day she passed, but I called and told her it was ok to let go, said my goodbyes, and she was gone within an hour. It was a sad day, but not a horrible day at all. She was ready.
We always had a close bond and before her 90th b-day announced she wanted to go skydiving. My family was up in arms over this. “NO! You’re 90 yrs old! Its too dangerous!” etc etc.
Me: “I’ll do it with you! Let me set it up….”
I almost got disowned for that, but she appreciated it.
God less your Mom Paul, and continue to visit and call her. You only have one mother.
Appreciate the candor in today’s edition about your moms. The family and I will be thinking of her. She sounds like my kinda lady, Tough and smart.
Thanks for sharing about your mom. I appreciate you telling it like it is, even if it’s not all Peeps and Reese’s eggs on Easter Mon. Your candor about health, family and your breakup are refreshing, if not a little difficult.
I appreciate your honest and heartfelt comments on your mom. As I read your comments, I was struck by the similarities with my own mom who passed away 14 years ago at 86. I don’t know what the right answer is but reading what you did this weekend put a lot of thoughts into my head. Anyone who is going through this with an older parent can certainly identify. Thanks again.
Your mother has led a wonderful life. Family at any age is a triumph. We need more of you and more of her around.
Hi Paul, Happy belated birthday to your mother, and thank you for the very thought-provoking reality check. Both of my parents are still with us, and still living at home on their own. But they are getting up in years, and I will likely be facing the same realities with them in the coming years.
I just noticed something when looking at my calendar. Today is the 100th day of the year. Thanks to leap year, next year the 100th day of the year will fall on your mother’s birthday, so she will be 100 on the 100th day of the year (and similarly, was 99 on the 99th day this year)!
Thanks to leap year, next year the 100th day of the year will fall on your mother’s birthday, so she will be 100 on the 100th day of the year (and similarly, was 99 on the 99th day this year)!
Wow — thank you for noticing/sharing that, Joe!
I share all the complicated feelings you have about your mother, who will turn 91 this year. The issues you raise are all real and need to be confronted in a meaningful way by our society. Till then, all we can do is the best that we can for the dignity of our parents.
I meant to say that MY mother will turn 91 this year, not — of course — yours. My mangled thoughts aside, I share the same complicated feelings about our aging mothers.
The need for a bat flip because you’ve gotten a walk, a single, etc., is akin to the NFL players who excitedly signal first down, spike the ball after a first down. It’s all a part of the “Look at Me/Look at what I did” culture we have today.
I’m much more of an “act like you’ve done it before” fan….
FWIW your mom wouldn’t qualify for “medical assistance in dying” as we call it in Canada.
End-of-life care is something the medical establishment does terribly. Whether its a person who’s dying of a terminal disease like cancer, or a rare terminal disease, or dementia, or whether they’re just old and worn but not dying of anything specific, we’re just really bad at it. We can deal with abnormal heart rhythms and tumours (things that show up on scans and tests and charts) but not with the emotion of growing old, malaise, tiredness.
Anyway (this is not a suggestion, just an anecdote), there’s a lot of research going on into the use of psychedelics (psylocibin in particular) in end-of-life care, to ease the symptoms such as malaise and existential distress associated with end-of-life. Which I kind of appreciate if only because the research recognizes that existential distress is a symptom and JUST AS VALID a symptom in a person as a weird EKG or blood work. I’m hoping that we’re starting to see a change in our attitude towards end of life and that we’re getting ready to deal with the emotional and mental consequences that end of life have on a person and provide assistance for those things, not just for the symptoms that show up on a chart.
Thanks for sharing your mom’s story with us. You know we are ALWAYS here for the personal stuff as well.
Good stuff, Mike. Thanks for the thoughtful feedback!
Thank you for your comments re your Mom, Paul. I thought immediately of my 88 year old Dad (my Mom died 4 years ago) and how tough it is for him to be alone, face his every-growing number of physical limitations, loss of friends his age, etc. He is much better off than most at his age from a financial standpoint, but that only goes so far. He, too, is very concerned with what will be left for me and my brothers. I have told him many times that if the last check he writes bounces, that’s fine. My retirement is mine to prepare for, not his, but as you said, as a parent, he wants us to be taken care of.
I also recalled one of my Grandmothers who passed in her mid-80s. When I was a kid, I remember her getting very sad at holidays and later speaking out loud about looking forward to her life being over. At the time, this all seemed so crazy to me, but given my recent experiences with Dad, it seems much more understandable. I would guess most people want to live a long life (as long as possible?), but don’t have any idea what it would really feel like to be in your 80s and 90s, and what that life would really be like on a day to day basis. As they say, it’s not the age, it’s the mileage, and your Mom living without your Dad for so long is understandably difficult. For my Dad, there seems to be an almost compounding effect as each season passes, in terms of his aging. So tough to watch. That said, I feel so lucky to have the Dad I have (and to have had my Mom). As hard as it’s been, it’s worth it, and I just do my best to be there for him and make things as pleasant for him as I can. As you said though, heartbreaking stuff.
I echo what some of the people have said about Jazz Chisholm. While flair is a part of his game, dropping the bat early is less “LOOK AT ME!!” and more “ump, that was ball 4, you know it was, see, gonna drop my bat and head toward first”. He isn’t the first to try and coax a call out of an ump. It’s a fairly heady play but when it backfires, it can make you look foolish, and like you are showing up the umpire.
My grandma is 93, has survived a stroke and Covid, and has declined quite a bit mentally. I have lots of good memories of what kind of person she used to be, but she’s not the same anymore.
At the other end of the spectrum, my dad passed away rather suddenly at the age of 58, and I selfishly wish that my kids had gotten to meet their grandpa.
I don’t think there is an “ideal” age or way to die. Life is hard and death is hard. Not to hijack this conversation with religion, but I am grateful to have the hope that my faith gives me.
Although I’m not religious myself, I’m certainly aware of how it can provide a great deal of comfort in situations like these (among many others), and of course I respect that. My mom knows/respects that too == we’ve even talked about it. It’s just not part of the culture of our family.
Thank you so much for sharing someone so special and something so personal with us.
I can relate to much of what you are feeling…my mother is the other side of 95, living in much the same way, and going through many of the issues you describe(and some which thankfully your mom is not).
I’m glad to learn that you had a very good Saturday and hope there will still be more days like that to come.
I don’t think it’s wise for any athlete to show up an umpire/ref in a sport with arbitrary decisions (balls/strikes, fouls, penalties). It’s more likely any close call will go against them later on.
Thanks for sharing about your mom. My grandfather went through a similar experience before he passed at 97 when his mind was sharp but his body was declining, and it was hard for him to accept.
Unfortunately, my mother passed away at 48 years old and her time was much too short, so I can’t help feeling jealous of everyone whose parents lived to old age. I would personally prefer to live too long than to die very young, especially if I had children. I believe we need better care for our elders and available assisted suicide for people of any age. Our ultimate freedom is the choice to live or die.
Your story about your mother is incredibly meaningful and does need to be addressed/understood. I say this both as a psychologist and as the grandson of a 97-year-old grandmother in a similar situation. She’s still sharp as a tack and even still lives in the same house my dad grew up in but she’s lonely and ready to move on. She’s the last of her siblings and my grandpa died in 1997. One of her favorite things to say is “I can’t wait until I die so I can cuss out your grandfather for leaving me alone so long.” The downsides of aging do need to be understood and respected.
Last year the 92 year old father of a friend was in the situation that his body was completely used up. His mind was starting to slide, he noticed it and hated it. In our country we have a vague definition called the quality of life. If somebody can address to various doctors that he or she no longer feels the quality of life is still there, some doctors are willing to assist in ending your life in a soft yet quick way. It is not official law but it is permitted. The image of the Netherlands is that of a country where government assists in commiting suicide, that is not true but this quality of life thing is important to us. He passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family. His last words, while smiling: this is beautiful.
I am not saying this is the way to go for everybody and I have experienced twice doctors who at one point withdrew their assistance because of religious and or ethical reasons, but euthenesia (as we call it) should be an option open to everybody. Thanks for your candid and recognizable story, Paul.
As many others have expressed, Paul, I was touched by your unflinching look at the challenges of quantity vs quality of life. Thank you for your gift of writing, and for the thoughtfulness that you apply to each subject you approach. All the best to you and your family!