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I'm Fucking Sad There Is No Baseball Right Now

There are many things to mourn in 2020. COVID-19 has devastated the world. Hundreds of thousands are dead. The world economy has been turned on its head. The painfully inadequate social safety net in America has been laid bare for all to see. The recent murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor have reopened a festering wound of racism in this country that has led to people taking to the streets in protest during a pandemic.


All these things considered, it seems selfish to worry about my career, but I do.


I was just starting to get really good — just starting to win prizes in competitions and getting hired for the second and third times for what will be my signature roles. I started out as a horn player and took a roundabout path to singing, so I tend to feel like I’m too old and playing catch up. I know that this pandemic could be the end of a journey that was just starting, and it’s terrifying.


It feels petty to cry over my canceled gigs, but I did.


I am so much more fortunate than so many during this crisis — how dare I think about my relatively small problems? This type of thinking, however, is destructive. It is important to keep a healthy perspective about where you fit into the grand scheme of things, but you are allowed to process the grief of this time as it comes to you. You must.


And today, I’m grieving for baseball. There, I said it. I’m fucking sad that there is no baseball right now.


I moved to the east coast to attend Pre-College at Juilliard when I was in high school. I stayed for college and ended up living in NYC for most of my late teens and early twenties. I was lonely, broke, and lost in the big city. Back in those days, it was cheaper to go to a ball game than a movie … and so I discovered the Yankees.


This was the first time I became aware of sports as a social culture. (Growing up in New Mexico, where there are no professional franchises, I had never felt that connection to a local team.) I started to recognize people in the bleachers of old Yankee Stadium from previous games, and I developed these bonds with people whose names I didn’t even know, because we loved the game and the team. It was nice to go somewhere and not think about music or pressure or failure — to just be a person watching the game. (Doesn’t hurt to be doing that in the house that Ruth built … just saying …)


Cut to the first week of freshman year. I was sitting in Mr. Ewazen’s L&M class at the ungodly hour of 8 a.m. when a violin player walked in late. (She was super cool and dating a guy who lived downtown so she never stayed at the dorm with the rest of us.) She apologized and said the trains stopped because a plane hit the World Trade Center. Mr. Ewazen smiled, as is his permanent visage, and assured her it was OK that she was late, and she didn’t need to make up an excuse. She shrugged and sat down. A few minutes later, the dean came around to our classroom. Mr. Ewazen told us to return to the dorm, grab a pillow and head to the ? theater under the school. I saw the second tower fall from my dorm window. My 18th birthday was the next day.


After 9/11, games felt different. I felt different. There was a sense of belonging and connection that all of us in New York felt to some degree, and we helped each other through that time. I got to perform at the victims’ memorial on 10/11 at Ground Zero — an honor. But, sitting at Yankee Stadium watching games that fall was much more therapeutic. We didn’t talk about it — there were no political arguments (no Fuckbook) — we just watched our team and felt.


Baseball became more than a cheap entertainment for me. It was therapy. It helped keep my life in perspective. I found a community that I felt no pressure to exist in. I found a hobby that I could be knowledgeable about, but never worried that I wasn’t an expert. I found a place where I belonged, without a doubt.


We don’t have baseball this time. We can’t gather and process our collective grief while we watch Gleyber Torres smash a homer into the upper deck. We can’t lose our anxiety for a few hours and enjoy the artistry of Chapman’s fastball. We can’t set aside our lockdown weariness to laugh at Brett Gardner’s bald head and dugout antics, just to say, “But damn if the old boy can’t run like the wind.”


I moved to San Francisco for grad school and have settled here in Northern California. I catch the Yanks when they are in town to play the A’s. I plan my audition trips to New York to coincide with homestands. I would’ve been at the home opener against Baltimore this year, when I was coming to do the Lissner Competition, both of which were ultimately canceled. I would’ve joined the other “Yanks in Exile” at the Houston/Dodgers series in LA, to aid the Dodger’s fans in booing the no-good, cheating Astros.


Baseball is a boon to me, mentally and professionally. Watching players has improved my performance. Singers are athletes, and many of the same training principles apply.


How does Gary Sánchez hit with such power with that weird slumped-over stance? After some experimentation, I’ve found that slumping over like that helps me access my large abdominal muscles when I’m feeling tense and breathing shallowly. Thanks Kraken.


Aaron Judge is a beauty to behold in every moment, but when he swings the bat and his shoulders come around, it is truly spectacular, like a bird in flight. I think about him when I sing demanding roles like Elektra and Brünnhilde. I visualize him at the plate, and channel that balance of strength and ease, that deep grounded connection to the earth with all the potential energy tingling under the surface.


And of course, there is no better masterclass in focus and performing under pressure than a 9th inning with Mariano Rivera on the mound.


I hope we don’t “go back to normal” after the pandemic. “Normal” in the U.S. was not good enough.


We shouldn’t go back to employment-dependent healthcare, wages so low that the average American doesn’t have a $500 emergency fund, and a culture that turns a passive eye to police brutality.


But, I do hope we get back to baseball.


I hope I can take my nephew to a Yankees/A’s game in Oakland and tease him about how superior my team is. I hope I can commune with strangers in a crowd under the late summer sun and absorb the prowess of these athletes I admire.


If we can get to that point, maybe we will be able to sing opera together again.


Go Yankees!


#BlackLivesMatter #GeorgeFloyd #BreonnaTaylor #SayTheirNames #Yankees #YankeesNation #YanksInExile #CheatingAstros #FtheRedSox #EvenThoughTheWorldIsUpsideDownIWillNeverForgetAboutTheSignStealingYouRottenBastards








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