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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.