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Rochester

There might not be a Rochester Red Wings season this year.

courtesy MiLB.com

There might not be any minor league baseball at all. Although this report has been denied by MiLB, what we do know for sure is that sports and society at large are grappling with uncertainty over when post Covid life will begin or what it will look like. While it is far from the most pressing aspect of the way this pandemic has changed our world, the Covid-19 crisis has brought unexpected and catastrophic financial pressures to sports around the globe from the Olympics to MiLB. Many smaller sports leagues might never be the same, or might not even come back at all.

There might not be a Rochester Red Wings season this year. If there’s no season, there won’t be any games to attend. It seems so simple, but it means so much. It means no paying nine dollars for a local craft beer from The Dugout and walking carefully up those weathered concrete stairs to the second level, sipping foam and trying not to spill all over myself. It means no shouting out “Comfort Windows and Doors!” every time a pop up goes foul over the back. I don’t even know if they still run that promotion, but years of trying to master the delay to be in sync with the PA has burned that simple jingle into my muscle memory, and into some of my friends too. It means not taking time some time in the middle innings to walk down the third base line toward where my Uncle has his season tickets, popping down to say hello.

It means no running into an old high school classmate, or their parents, and trying to figure how much small talk is enough before you can politely leave and go get that hot dog. It means no hearing Taco guy yell (honestly I’m pretty neutral about that). It means no silly promotions, and no brilliant ones. No waiting in line to get Leslie David Baker’s autograph (he played Stanley in The Office). It means my family won’t have our annual day game, a feat of scheduling so complex the logistics can only be described as something like an M.C. Escher lithograph. My parents, my aunts and uncles, my cousins, all extricating themselves from their jobs and their lives and their travel for one afternoon of all the little kids running around the lawn seating at the corner of left field.

There’s a brick by the fence near the street third base side with my name on it. It was a Christmas gift from my Mom. It’s a sweet but silly little thing that I normally don’t think about much. But faced with the prospect of a summer without Red Wings baseball, I’m realizing that the Red Wings are a part of my life, the part I measure the passing of time by at least as much as my own birthday. All those years as a little kid going to games with my parents, catching foul balls. I remember getting to go down on the field for Boy Scouts events and feeling like I was at the center of the universe. The years went by and games became a place to go hang out with friends to be away from our parents. Especially in college, when everyone was just getting home, we learned the truth that there isn’t really a better thing to half pay attention to while you catch up and reminisce than a baseball game.

The Red Wings are a part of me, and in some little way that I hope is true enough to not be corny I hope I’m a part of them too. One brick in the foundation. I feel like I am, like the team is some amalgamation of Rochester, its people and their stories.

There might not be a Rochester Red Wings season this year. And that makes me really sad.

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