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People frustrated with lockdowns need to read this ER doctor’s COVID-19 journal entries

With protests around the country over pandemic lockdowns, it’s clear that many Americans are frustrated—and understandably so. We’re in a frustrating situation, where leaders and public health officials have to make impossible decisions based on constantly changing data, with terrible consequences resulting from every choice.

But some folks seem to be a bit unclear on exactly what these lockdowns have been preventing. In areas that haven’t been hard hit, the measures feel like an overreaction. That’s why we need to be reminded of the real, dire human toll this virus will take if allowed to spread. And not just in numbers, which are too easy to dismiss, but in stories that describe the reality of what can happen anywhere the virus is allowed to take hold.

Jason Hill, an ER doctor at New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, shared some of his personal journal entries during the peak of New York’s outbreak. They offer a painful but beautifully crafted window into why we’ve been locking down and must continue to do what it takes to keep the spread to a minimum.

Jason Hill

Dr. Hill wrote on Facebook on April 15:

“Thanks for all the bday wishes. Several people have asked me about what it’s been like in the ER with Covid. I’d done some journaling the last couple weeks. As I turn forty this is how my head, heart, and soul have been occupied.

Covid at 40.

The eyes stay with you. In peace time most of those we intubate are chronically ill, or profoundly confused, or unconscious and unaware of the world around them. Covid has changed the equation. Most of my patients now remain awake and alert until the end. These days the ER is permeated with frank conversations about death and dying and what a chance to live entails. It is a hard thing to tell a healthy and functional person who felt fine and well six days ago they may be dead in a day or two and humbly ask how aggressive they want us to be. A chance to live comes with the risk of dependence on life support and pain. The alternative is the guarantee of an imminent but peaceful death. I have never had more harrowing, more frequent, more brutally honest, more meaningful, more exhausting conversations in my life. Complete strangers open up to you in profound ways during such times and you can only hope both your expertise and your humanity serve them well. And the eyes stay with you.

For those I intubate, those who choose intubation, I often find myself having a final stare. After all the words are spoken, the decisions made, the medications drawn, the bed positioned, the tubes and drips and ventilators readied, there is a final stare. It is a stare of intention. It is a moment of humanity. It is a shared space, a hallowed space, the final moment of someone’s awareness, possibly forever. It is a space where fear and hope mingle, where autonomy fades into trust, uncertainty into acceptance, and all they have left is placed firmly in your gloved hands. It’s brief, and you’re busy, and time is essential, but you find a few seconds to share this final breath. That stare lasts a moment. That stare lasts a lifetime. And the eyes stay with you.

I see them often in my mind, and although haunting I am glad to keep them with me. I warm my hands on the raw humanity inherent in such moments and they empower me to carry on. For carry on we must because the room is full of agony and sickness and fear that must be attended to quickly and humanely.


I am asleep before a long night shift. I awake to the sound of cheers and yells. To hooting and hollering. To the clanging of cow bells and the banging of drums. They yell and shout and scream to honor us. They shout from rooftops and ground floors and all the windows and balconies in between. I am asleep before a long night shift. It wakes me up. I am scared shitless. I think the building is on fire. I run around panicked and confused for several minutes. Why do the fire sirens sound like drums and cowbells? Do I even have a fire escape?? WTF is going on?? Oh. Ohhhhhhh. Ok. I get it now. My heart is still racing, but now I’m grinning. Thanks. I feel grateful…mostly.


Oxygen Rounds is a new term we have become all too familiar with. I have a hospital full of medications. Antibiotics and anti-virals and sedatives and vasopressors and steroids and opiates. But the only truly effective medicine we have is Oxygen. We blow it at high flow rates into people’s mouths and nostrils, a crutch to help the lungs that are struggling and staggering. And it’s in a shorter supply than I’d like. It flows forever from spickets on the walls, but we have many times more patients than spickets and even fewer rooms so an ever increasing number of patients on stretchers line hallways further and further from the spickets on the walls. We place portable tanks next to stretchers, but the tanks run out and we can’t refill them fast enough. Once per hour, sometimes twice, I walk the halls, hunting for gauges approaching empty and hoping the cabinet holds a replacement. Invariably I find empty ones and hope it hasn’t been empty long. Invariably someone is turning blue. It’s no one’s fault. it’s everyone’s fault. it’s Covid’s fault. And there just aren’t enough eyes and hands to keep up. I mutter a promise to check three times next hour. I pull a step ladder from the utility closet and string plastic connecters end to end to end threading them from wall spickets through corrugated ceiling tiles to drop down above patients’ heads in the hallway so they aren’t reliant on a tank. It’s hard to tell which knob goes to who, but at least it doesn’t run out. It’s a strange time when a step ladder becomes a more useful tool than a stethoscope.


I admitted four of my colleagues today. Four of them. They had the usual symptoms. A week or so of cough and chills, fever and body aches, fatigue and loss of smell. They stayed at home and took Tylenol and sipped chicken soup and wondered which patient they had gotten it from. They stayed inside and washed their hands and waited to feel better. But better never came. The cough worsened, they had trouble walking around their home without getting winded, and they knew all too well what that meant, so they came, each of them, not knowing the others were doing the same. I’m in a room with four chairs housing four colleagues with oxygen flowing into their four noses. I’m used to seeing strangers, people I care about because they’re human, but a stranger still. I can maintain a detached distance. This is different. These are my friends and colleagues. These are the people I suit up with and go to battle beside. This is my team. I’ve had harrowing experiences beside them for years. They keep me sane and effective and capable. Together we’ve saved lives and lost lives and everything in between. But now they are on the other side of the curtain. Their coughs hurt my ears more, their fear becomes my fear, I check on the them to the point of harassment, can’t help it, can’t fix it, they’re on a path I can’t cure, can only support through. Can only stand beside them and hope. They try to reassure me, a strange role reversal that belies their strength. I well up with a deep respect. I well up with tears. The front line really feels like the front today.


The makers are my favorite people this week. Several days ago I intubated without a face shield. It was three in the morning and we had run out. There were simply more intubations than face shields and we had burned through the stash. But a patient came in and was suffocating in their own lungs and needed a breathing tube, so they got one, and they got one from me, and I did not have the proper armor. Today I stand in a room with hundreds and hundreds of face shields. They are pulled hot off the 3D printers like newspapers off a press. They are arranged on tables by volunteers who add elastic bands and attach shields to complete the ensemble. In the background the gentle hum of a dozen printers working around the clock is an echo of the thousands of engineers and designers, seamstresses and manufacturers, cooks and delivery workers and writers all contributing to the cause. Each shield is a person protected. Each volunteer is a soldier in the fight. I feel less alone.


Oxygen means something different in this new reality. In peace time an oxygen level below 95% is bad. An oxygen level below 95% on a non-rebreather face mask is terrifying. That’s a no-brainer. That gets fixed quickly or that gets intubated. Everything is different now. We hang facemasks of oxygen on people with 85-90% saturations for days. They are on the edge of the cliff with one foot dangling and there they stay. Will they inevitably fall off? Are we helping or merely delaying? No one knows. Ventilators are in short supply, ICU beds are full, and ICU docs are tired. We’re all tired. So we temporize, hoping a few will sneak by and not get intubated. Hoping someone doesn’t fall off the cliff when we aren’t looking. The monitors don’t help. They are all beeping and blaring all the time from every direction. The background music of a pandemic. They only tell us what we know, everyone is sick. Only our eyes and experience can help us now. I take another lap around the ER to check the cliffsides.


I’m baking a mask tonight. My single use N95 has been on my face for days. The backs of my ears are raw from the rubbing of its straps and my nostrils are filled with the scent of fibers mixed with my coffee flavored breath. My mask bakes and bakes, sterilizing it and killing any viral hitchhikers that attached themselves today. I wish I could do the same for someone’s lungs. It comes out warm and toasty and clean. It comes out safe. I set it on the windowsill to cool, like an apple pie from easier days. Worst desert ever.


All hands were on deck today. Elective surgeries have been cancelled and the surgeons and anesthesiologists and neurologists and orthopedists and urologists and rehab specialists and pediatricians have been deputized as ER and ICU docs. Urology attendings and shoulder surgeons are rounding with ICU teams, adjusting ventillators, and drawing blood gases. Pediatricians are seeing adult patients and monitoring oxygen levels. Outpatient docs are working in tents in front of the ER to decompress volume. General surgeons are going from room to room to room putting in Central lines and Arterial lines on our sickest patients. Anesthesiologists are running in to intubate. It remains busy. It remains overrun with sickness and suffering. But today we have more help. Today we have reinforcements. Today we feel like one big army devoted to one fight. Today it feels like maybe, just maybe, we can keep up.


Es El Fin. Today I’m a palliative care doc. This man is not doing well. This man needs intubation to survive. He’s 67 and only speaks Spanish. He’s healthy. He’s dying. His oxygen is very low. His respiratory rate is very high. He’s getting tired. He’s suffocating in his own body. He needs to be intubated. He doesn’t want to be intubated. He doesn’t want to be on a machine. We ask if we can help call his family to say goodbye. He looks at us puzzled, somehow still not fully understanding. Esta Muriendo senior. Es el fin. This is the end. He gets it. He’s stoic despite the tears. He’s strong. If this disease attacked character instead of lungs he would have a fighting chance. We set up a video call with his family. He says goodbye. They say they love him in a dozen different ways. He touches the screen. A digital hand hold in a pandemic age. We make him comfortable. He’s still drowning but he can’t feel it. He says thank you before his eyes close. I can’t help but wonder if he would have survived had he been intubated. The odds say no. The sense of defeat within me screams maybe. I try to remind myself this is what he wanted. That this is for the best. I quickly forget.


I give out more juice and blankets than I ever have. In peace time the ER is busy, always busy, but most people are not dying. Very few are dying, and even fewer are acutely and actively dying. The scourge of Covid has rewritten those rules. Everyone in the ER tonight is too sick to go home. Many are dying. Many will never leave the hospital. Many will never have a meal or a juice box again. In peace times I often can’t be bothered to bring someone juice. It’s not a priority. Tonight anyone asking gets juice. Even those not asking get juice. Often it’s the only comfort I can provide. A small ease of suffering. A brief distraction from the fear. It may be the last juice they ever drink. Some nights it’s the best medicine I have.


We had a patient tonight that impaled her hand with a crochet needle. Right through her hand. Simple stuff for us. Easy to take care of. Three of us ran over. Two more than was necessary. An orthopedist playing ICU doc was walking by. He ran over. He was excited. We were all excited. This was not Covid. This was something we could fix. We did it together. Eight hands to do the job of two. We removed the needle, help it up like a trophy, washed it off and gave it back. Our patient smiled, said thank you, and went home in one piece. It was the best we’d felt in days.


My colleagues are tired. The patients keep coming. The ER is wall to wall misery and mayhem. Only five people died on me today. Only five. But everyone there is dying to varying degrees and at various rates. The ER is a cross section of the disease. The well who will stay well. The well who will come back much worse. The sick who are stable. The sick who are crashing. It’s all around us. It keeps coming in through the front door. It keeps coming in through the ambulance bay. And my colleagues are tired. We give oxygen. Everyone staying gets oxygen. Needs oxygen. We try antibiotics. We try antivirals. We try hydroxychloroquine. This week we use steroids. This week we limit IV fluids. This week we give blood thinners. Does anything work? Are we saving anyone or just supporting them as they go along a path pre-determined by the virus coursing through their insides? Is the inevitable inevitable? Some days we just feel like spectators, front row observers going through the necessary motions of a play whose final act has already been written. So much death. So much dying. And my colleagues are tired. We’re all tired. And yet somehow, for some reason, I find there’s no place I’d rather be. I leave the ER, the sun has come up and I walk around enjoying its warm tendrils. Its quiet. Stores are shuddered, streets are empty, and sidewalks are bare. It seems peaceful. Its an illusion. But I appreciate it. Time to go home. Time to recharge. Tired won’t last forever. Covid won’t last forever. And there is still plenty of fight in us.”

Imagine this being your current reality, then imagine what it must be like to see people protest the measures that are keeping that reality out of other communities. We’re not doing all of this for nothing. Yes, it’s frustrating, but we face nothing but frustrating options at the moment.

Thank you, Dr. Hill, for sharing your experiences and for doing your best to save lives. Let’s hope people see the warning in your words and act accordingly.

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‘Harley Quinn’ Is Coming To SyFy For Anyone Who Doesn’t Have DC Universe

Harley Quinn is a foul-mouthed delight — the animated series “has already proven itself capable of balancing deep, soul-searching moments on Harley’s behalf with uproariously wicked humor,” as we recently wrote in a glowing review — but only for anyone willing to pay $7.99 per month for DC Universe. That’s the cost of two bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwiches. Two! No wonder showrunner Justin Halpern is constantly asked, “How can I watch Harley Quinn if I don’t have DC Universe?” He finally has an answer: SyFy will show the first season of Harley Quinn on Sunday nights beginning May 3.

Here’s what the schedule looks like.

May 3: Episodes 1-4, 11 p.m. EST
May 10: Episodes 5-7, 11 p.m. EST
May 17: Episodes 8-10, 11 p.m. EST
May 24: Episodes 11-13, 12 a.m. EST

What usually airs at 11 p.m. on a Sunday night on SyFY? Old episodes of Andromeda, I assume. Sorry, but you’ll have to get your Kevin Sorbo fix elsewhere.

Harley Quinn, which stars Kaley Cuoco as Harley Quinn, Lake Bell as Poison Ivy, Alan Tudyk as the Joker, Ron Funches as King Shark, Jason Alexander as Sy Borgman, Christopher Meloni as Commissioner Gordon, and Wayne Knight as the Penguin (the list of voice actors is mighty impressive), is available in its entirety on DC Universe.

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Indie Mixtape 20: The Beths Can’t Stop Listening To A 14-Minute Disco Banger

The Beths’ debut album Future Me Hates Me was one of our favorite indie albums of 2018, and we can barely contain our excitement for its follow-up. Due out July 10, Jump Rope Gazers is preceded by the single “Dying To Believe,” which showcases the New Zealand quartet’s incredible power-pop songwriting prowess, pairing a massive vocal hook with simple but impressive instrumental arrangements.

In anticipation of the new record, Elizabeth Stokes sat down to talk her formative CDs, a 14-minute disco banger, and more in the latest Indie Mixtape 20 Q&A.

What are four words you would use to describe your music?

Electric Guitar Bass Drums Singing oh god no I’ve miscounted.

It’s 2050 and the world hasn’t ended and people are still listening to your music. How would you like it to be remembered?

This is a huge question. If we were really lucky, we’d be a band that people feel a personal affection for, and an association with being really special to them during certain periods of their lives. That would be nice.

What’s your favorite city in the world to perform?

Auckland, New Zealand. We’ve so rarely played at home the last couple years and when we do it’s indescribably special.

Who’s the person who has most inspired your work, and why?

Jonathan Pearce nudged me into songwriting again, which is the whole reason this project exists, and constantly inspires me to try my best with this band and not mess it up.

Where did you eat the best meal of your life?

I’ve don’t really have a good memory for food. Last night we had rice and stir-fried mushrooms and a fried egg and Lao Gan Ma. I’m pretty sure that’s the best thing I can remember eating. I wished it would never end but it did 🙁

What album do you know every word to?

All the albums that I had on CD as a teenager between 2004 and 2008. Bright Eyes Lifted, Rilo Kiley More Adventurous, The Postal Service Give Up, Fall Out Boy Take This To Your Grave … Lyrics were the main draw for me so I’d learn all of them before googling guitar tabs.

What was the best concert you’ve ever attended?

The first time I saw Hans Pucket (NZ’s best band) at the Wine Cellar as part of a night where around 8 bands were playing alternating sets between Wine Cellar and Whammy Bar. It was so incredibly tight and fun and the songs were so immediate and the arrangements so imaginative. I went and saw them at a house party the next night and they covered “Loyal” by Dave Dobbyn and it was glorious. I feel incredibly lucky to count such talented people among my friends, and we got to take them on tour to the UK last year.

What is the best outfit for performing and why?

Trying to figure out how to say this without name-dropping brands haha. I bring two pairs of shoes on tour, one… boot shoe that’s a bit clunky, and one pair of skate sneakers that I keep in my guitar case. I wear the boots all day because they are more comfortable, but when we play I do a lot of pedal changes while singing and it’s not unusual for me to miss the correct pedal. So the light, tight-fitting sneakers give me the much-needed foot dexterity to hit the correct pedal, and to move around a bit more.

Who’s your favorite person to follow on Twitter and/or Instagram?

My flatmate @_richardparry_ makes quite amazing photography art that involves dismantling game consoles and cameras. It’s beautifully polished stuff, which is completely at odds with his ‘story’ content. I won’t give anything away.

What’s your most frequently played song in the van on tour?

We like to start a particularly long drive with a 14 minute disco banger called “Am I Honest With Myself Really” by Chaz Jankel. Sometimes a couple times back to back. Ben (our bassist) introduced us to this song and it’s now a part of our touring tradition. It’s quite a journey of a song.

What’s the last thing you Googled?

Chas Jankel “Am I Honest With Myself Really.”

What album makes for the perfect gift?

I mean, it would depend on the person right? I think it’d be hard to turn down ‘Brightly Painted One’ by Tiny Ruins, it’s a classic.

Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever crashed while on tour?

On our first NZ tour, in Christchurch we stayed on the floor/couches of a factory warehouse that a friend worked out. That was weird and a bit cold, but freeee.

What’s the story behind your first or favorite tattoo?

I don’t have any! Weirdly none of The Beths currently have a tattoo. I’d like one, I think the reason I don’t is that they’re quite expensive?

What artists keep you from flipping the channel on the radio?

Can’t turn off Fleetwood Mac when it comes on.

What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?

For my 16th birthday my highschool bandmates organized a surprise birthday party for me where they had a mobile petting zoo that was just bunnies and one small pony. I was very confused and then just had rabbits dumped into my lap. I still don’t know if it was real.

What’s one piece of advice you’d go back in time to give to your 18-year-old self?

I don’t know, I wouldn’t want to change much really. I think I’d tell myself not to get so caught up in university. I threw myself 100% into music school and lost touch with the local band scene I’d been a part of all through high school. I don’t regret getting fully immersed in studying music, but I wish I’d stayed connected. Reconnecting afterwards was nice though.

What’s the last show you went to?

Oh god. It was my friend Callum Passells’ show, who is a saxophone player. He did a triple trio gig, so three kits, three bassists, three saxophone players. It was a great cacophony. It was at the Audio Foundation, which is the home for Auckland’s free and experimental musicians. It’s a special place and I hope it makes it through this period ok, because there is nothing else like it here.

What movie can you not resist watching when it’s on TV?

10 Things I Hate About You.

What would you cook if Kanye were coming to your house for dinner?

I don’t think this is a good idea, I can’t think either of us would have a very nice time.

Jump Rope Gazers is out July 10. Pre-order it here.

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Billie Eilish Will Extend Her Prolific Livestream Run On Verizon’s ‘Pay It Forward’ Series

As the quarantine drags on, Billie Eilish is continuing to do all she can to both keep fans entertained and support a good cause. The singer has performed sets on a number of livestreams, including the recent Lady Gaga-curated Together At Home benefit concert. Now, the singer is partnering with Verizon to perform a virtual set and support local businesses.

Verizon tapped Eilish to lend her vocals as part of their Pay It Forward livestream series. The series allows artists to spotlight and raise funds for local businesses. Viewers are encouraged to offer their support by ordering items and meals online, buying a gift card, or donating directly to the business of Eilish’s choosing.

In a statement, Eilish said she’s “honored” to be able to support small businesses through the charitable livestream. “Small businesses are a crucial part of our community, and it is so important that we support them during this crisis,” Eilish said. “I am honored to be able to call attention to these local businesses, who have made an impact on my life, and are trying to make the world a better place.”

Ahead of the livestream, Eilish said she is actually finding joy in the mandated quarantine. In a recent interview, Eilish said she has been enjoying the opportunity to take a break from work:

“It sounds so introverted and lonerish, but I’ve been really enjoying being alone, you know, and that’s like, the rest of my life is like that, which is totally fine. I just have to be aware of it. But it’s been nice. I don’t know, I feel like everybody on the internet has been talking about like, they’ve been on FaceTime all day long with their friends, and I kind of have this feeling of like, I love my friends, I can’t wait to see them, I do miss them a lot, but at the same time I’m like, I don’t know, I’m good. I’m good being alone, I like being alone. […] I haven’t had this time off since like I was like 12, so yeah, it’s crazy.”

Verizon’s Pay It Forward livestream session with Eilish takes place 4/22 at 8 p.m. EDT. Watch it here.

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The Problem With Cutting Minor League Baseball Teams

There’s this old, wonderful baseball field in Williamsport, Penn. Currently known as BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field, I spent a summer getting to know the place pretty well before a bank, which has since merged with another bank, cut a check to get its name plastered on signage. It was then known as Historic Bowman Field, a ballpark erected in 1926 to give Williamsport’s local New York-Pennsylvania League squad — which has existed for decades — a home.

The tiny city’s first team was known as the Williamsport Grays. Through the weirdness that is Minor League Baseball, where teams hop around in some form or fashion from city to city with different major league affiliates, the club that’s currently planted its roots in Williamsport is the Crosscutters, the short-season single-A squad belonging to the Philadelphia Phillies. Between my sophomore and junior years of college, I found myself desperate for something to do so my resume included more than “he had decent grades, and welp, see ya later.” I lived about 45 minutes away, and the team offered internships in sports, so during the summer months of 2012, I made that drive a few times a week and served as a Gameday Intern.

It was good, unpaid work, an oxymoronic phrase that is eerily familiar, particular for those in my generation. The bleachers needed to be wiped down before every game, the mascot had to be assisted around the stadium, college students and parents who did not know better had to be helped into and out of sumo suits for one of the many in-game promotions, tarps sometimes needed to be put on. The team wasn’t great, the players were a tight-knit bunch, the grounds crew made the diamond look good, and everyone who worked or interned there seemed to enjoy one another.

The Crosscutters are also an important part of the community in Williamsport, a generally baseball-crazed one by nature of being home to the Little League World Series (which, as an aside, rules and you should attend as soon as it is safe). This is why a report by J.J. Cooper of Baseball America on Tuesday stopped me in my tracks: Major League Baseball, in its quest to make The Numbers look a little better, might finally get its wish and have a handful of minor league squads shut down as part of negotiations toward a new Professional Baseball Agreement. The argument, as MLB makes it, is that despite its 17th consecutive year of increased revenue in 2019 — a cool $10.7 billion — MiLB as it currently exists just costs too dang much.

“From the perspective of MLB clubs, our principal goals are upgrading the minor league facilities that we believe have inadequate standards for potential MLB players, improving the working conditions for MiLB players, including their compensation, improving transportation and hotel accommodations, providing better geographic affiliations between major league clubs and their affiliates, as well as better geographic lineups of leagues to reduce player travel,” MLB deputy commissioner Dan Halem said back in October.

Cooper indicates that MiLB plans to signal its agreement to the measure soon, meaning…

If both sides agree, it would mean as many as 42 current minor league teams would be lopped off by eliminating short-season and Rookie ball. Two independent league teams, the St. Paul Saints and Sugar Land Skeeters, would be added to affiliated ball. The two sides are working on a potential deal to ensure the majority of those 42 markets would have still have baseball with ties to MLB in a system that has long-term viability.

An important thing to stress here is that Minor League Baseball has called these reports “largely inaccurate,” releasing a statement on its official Twitter account that I only saw because it was retweeted by the Crosscutters.

This is not a particularly reassuring development, however, as this has seemingly been on league commissioner Rob Manfred’s list of things to do in an attempt to have any sort of memorial to his time in charge of the league vandalized for the rest of eternity. A potential idea that has been bandied about is a “Dream League,” which would keep teams in these cities but instead use unaffiliated players. Minor League Baseball previously called this a “shell game,” per the New York Times. The Athletic noted that minor league owners disagree with the feasibility of a structure that has franchises exist on their own “vehemently.”

It also hit home because Williamsport was one of the teams on the chopping block back when an initial list was circulated in November. There are 14 teams in the NYPL, nine of them are on that aforementioned list.

When this list was first circulated, Vermont senator and then-presidential candidate Bernie Sanders met with the commissioner and went on a media blitz to put some heat on Manfred — Sanders’ office in Burlington is just down the road from Centennial Field, home to the Vermont Lake Monsters, another team which appears on that aforementioned list of 42 squads.

A Brooklyn native who recalled what it was like to watch his beloved Dodgers pack up their things and head to Los Angeles, Sanders is one of the several members of Congress from both parties who are against minor league contraction. Another member of the Senate, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, previously said “the antitrust exemption for Major League Baseball is at risk if they persist with this misguided, deeply unfortunate plan to cripple minor league baseball for more profits.”

The line from Major League Baseball is that reducing the number of minor league teams is a smart fiscal move, one that helps with Viability and Nimbleness and Flexibility and all the other words that look great on PowerPoints but oftentimes ignore any sort of real-world consequences. But as Sanders mentioned to the Los Angeles Times back in December, Minor League Baseball’s role is important because it is representative of a time when a thing’s value was measured beyond a bottom line.

“Some 30 years ago, I helped bring minor league baseball — it was a double-A team affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds — to Vermont,” Sanders said. “What I saw with my own eyes is what minor league baseball does to a community. It is especially gratifying to see kids go out to the ballgames, families able to afford the relatively low price of tickets, and kids get autographs from the players. There’s just a huge amount of excitement and community spirit.”

Fast forward to Tuesday, when the report dropped that Minor League Baseball, strangled in part by the COVID-19 pandemic that is impacting billions of people worldwide, was finally willing to agree to a reduction in the number of teams. Like all of us, MiLB — which Baseball America reports was ready to engage in “a public relations and political campaign” before everything came to a stop due to the virus — is not afforded the luxury of thinking about the future at the present moment. There is only now, there is only survival, and in its quest to stay afloat in a normally cold, cruel, crushing world that is quite a bit more cold, cruel, and crushing than usual lately, it reportedly plans to relent to what The Numbers indicate is best for Longevity and Feasibility.

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This is not an uncommon thing, mind you. There is assuredly a restaurant, mom and pop store, movie theater, or some other institution near and dear to your heart has closed its doors in the last however many years, leaving you devastated as happy memories rushed back. You were probably in whatever soulless, hyper-corporate thing you settled on going to in a feeble attempt to fill that void while experiencing this. Or think of that website you loved so dearly, for whom The Numbers looked bad, so it shut down, and that person who wrote things in a way you particularly loved is looking into a Patreon while simultaneously considering whether it’s worth ditching journalism altogether to join a PR shop.

The Numbers have their place for informing major decisions, of course. Minor League Baseball’s entire appeal, though, is that it is a reminder of a time where sports were sports, not a vehicle through which you consumed ads while a game is going on in the foreground (that foreground, by the way, is sponsored by Burger King). For families that might not have much, the ones who are damned to a life of struggle due to circumstances outside of their control, taking an extra couple of dollars and buying some $10 tickets to a ballgame — everyone gets a hot dog, mom and dad get a beer — is worth exponentially more than what The Numbers might indicate. There is something particularly cruel about a multi-billion dollar organization like Major League Baseball deciding that people who already don’t have much deserve even less.

Minor League Baseball is one of the few remnants of American society that has survived our collective shift from viewing ourselves as members of communities much larger than ourselves to one of radical individualism. It serves an important function in the world of baseball, yes, but it serves a much more important function in the towns and small cities where 37th round draft picks who hit .187 and get to say they spent a year as a short-season single-A baseball player are propped up as stars — hell, as an intern, I wore a jersey with a name tag during most games, and I vividly remember a child shoving a baseball in my face with a sharpie and asking if I would sign it.

The sport is the country’s pastime, something as deeply ingrained in the American spirit as [insert whatever trivial American thing you’d like to make this simile work right here]. In MiLB, people from every single background are afforded the opportunity to experience a professional sport, or a night to remove themselves from whatever problems they’re dealing with. I think of the families that would come to games in Williamsport, or the elderly folks who have been coming to games at Bowman Field for years, because their parents brought them to games, and that’s just what they do. I didn’t always learn the names, but from June to September, those faces became recognizable, and I like to think they recognized me, too. I think of the children who joyously laughed on Sundays when they got to run the bases, or the smiles on faces during Saturday night’s postgame fireworks show, or the way that people would lose their minds when the team’s mascot, Boomer, acknowledged their existence. I think of the night where a bunch of Little League World Series teams from every corner of the world came and had the time of their lives watching one of the lowest levels of pro baseball that exists in the United States, because it was fun, and they are children, so of course they’re going to have the time of their lives.

These moments do not generate gobs of revenue, but their importance cannot be quantified. Minor League Baseball, at its core, is part of the soul of an increasingly soulless country. Taking that away from 42 communities would be a shame.

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Wale Makes A Powerful Statement About Race In His Clever, Seven-Minute ‘Sue Me’ Video

Wale capped off 2019 by dropping his sixth album, Wow… That’s Crazy. The record begins with the Kelly Price-featuring “Sue Me,” and now Wale has shared a lengthy visual for the song. In the seven-minute, Kerby Jean-Raymond-directed video for the track (which Wale previously asserted has “one of the greatest beats ever“), Wale plays with race. The video follows a struggling white teenager who has the unfortunate experience of getting racially profiled at a “Morebucks” coffee shop.

Wale says of the clip:

“What if you could walk through a day in the life of an average African American young man? What would you see? What would you hear? What would you face? We wanted to redefine the whole narrative and allow everybody to step into these shoes. I’ve never been more proud of a video than what we did here. Kerby really brought this vision to life, and Reebok helped make it a reality. I hope it makes you think a little. While you’re thinking, stay safe and stay home!”

He also previously said of Wow… That’s Crazy as a whole, “Hands down, this is my most personal project. Somebody told me the other day that this is a beautiful, healing album, and it’s the beginning stages of healing from black trauma. It’s unapologetically black, but it’s also a healing — the good and bad that comes from all the sh*t that comes from being a black man or a black woman in America.”

Watch the “Sue Me” video above.

Wale is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.

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Report: A Red Sox Video Operator Was Suspended By MLB In Its Sign-Stealing Probe

After weeks of investigation, MLB has determined that specifically within the Red Sox organization, it was not manager Alex Cora who was at the center of the team’s sign-stealing efforts. Rather, it was a video operator named J.T. Watkins.

This news comes from Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic, who note that Cora, who was suspended by commissioner Rob Manfred for his efforts in a separate Houston Astros’ scandal and subsequently fired by the Red Sox, was not found to have spearheaded Boston’s rule-breaking during the 2018 regular season.

So while Cora remains out of baseball for this year, “Watkins will be suspended without pay for the 2020 regular season and prohibited from serving as a replay room operator for the 2021 regular season and postseason.” Though Manfred has repeatedly laid blame at the hands of managers and general managers in such circumstances, Watkins allegedly “acted as a rogue employee.”

Watkins and 30 of the 34 Red Sox players interviewed by the league denied Watkins’ cheating, according to the report from The Athletic. The league investigation also determined that the Red Sox sign-stealing efforts did not continue in the 2018 postseason, when they won the World Series, or in the 2019 regular season. Boston will also forfeit a 2020 second-round pick as part of the punishment to be handed down by the league.

Manfred is reportedly quoted in the investigation’s official report as saying, “Many players told my investigators that they were unaware that in-game sign decoding from the replay station had been prohibited in 2018 and 2019.”

Those same players, according to Watkins, “were aware that they were supposed to routinely provide him with sign information gathered when they were on second base.” Clearly, Watkins was at the center of the efforts, but the report seems to leave much undetermined.

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Lil Dicky Has Donated A Hefty Sum To Benefit Relief Funds On The One-Year Anniversary Of ‘Earth’

One year ago today, on Earth Day, Lil Dicky recruited some of today’s biggest stars to lend a hand on his charitable single “Earth.” The track saw verses from the likes of Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Ed Sheeran, and Katy Perry. He even tried to call up Kanye West to be on the track but couldn’t reach him because the rapper had changed his number. Though the track came out a year ago, Dicky aims to continue the song’s philanthropic message by donating a large amount of money to assist in the fight against both climate change and the global pandemic.

Dicky has offered an impressive $800,000 in donations to benefit various organizations. Arriving across six grants, Dicky’s charitable act will benefit Amazon Frontlines, the Carbon Cycle Institute, Global Greengrants Fund, Quick Response Fund For Nature, Shark Conservation Fund, and The Solutions Project. Along with donating to specific charity groups, Dicky is offering over $200,000 to his newly-minted COVID-19 x Climate Response Fund.

In a statement, the rapper explained his reasoning behind the large donation:

“I’m very honored and humbled that we’re able to give this money to these organizations, and super thankful of all of the artists on this song who made this possible. And of course, thank you to every Earthling out there for listening and spreading the word. Unfortunately, the fight to save this planet isn’t even close to over, and we’re going to have to amplify our efforts way more to turn this thing around. Because pretty soon, it’ll be too late. Even though times have never been scarier with the COVID-19 pandemic, it has shown me something: that we can modify our day-to-day behavior to adapt to a crisis when it’s right in front of us. Even if you don’t feel the climate crisis at every moment, it is truthfully right in front of us.”

Some of the artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.

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Steve Kerr Said ‘Nobody Resented’ Scottie Pippen And ‘He Was Beloved’ By 1997-98 Bulls

Much of the second episode of “The Last Dance,” which aired Sunday on ESPN, centered around the hardship of Scottie Pippen’s upbringing and the ways it impacted his NBA career, including the infamous seven-year contract he signed in 1991. That has led many to revisit Pippen’s impact on those Bulls teams and place in the NBA hierarchy historically.

In an interview with Rachel Nichols on The Jump on Tuesday, Warriors coach and then-Bulls guard Steve Kerr praised Pippen mightily.

Aside from being “the best defensive player in the league by far,” Kerr said Pippen also was vital in the locker room. “Scottie was sort of the counter-balance to (Michael Jordan’s prickly personality),” Kerr said.

Another focus of part two of the series was Pippen’s decision to undergo surgery at the start of training camp rather than over the summer. Pippen made no mistake about the fact that the delay was intentional, as he wanted to enjoy the offseason rather than rehabbing. Kerr, however, insisted there were no hard feelings from the team.

“We felt his frustration with him,” Kerr said. “Nobody resented him for having that surgery later. We all just understood … Let’s give him his space, and he’s going to be there in the second stretch of the season for us.”

Whereas Jordan in the film calls Pippen “selfish” for making the decision, Kerr’s perspective is probably more representative of other teammates. Jordan understandably felt the weight of Pippen’s departure heavily, as the Bulls got off to a rocky start (which we also see in the second episode) and Jordan had to, as always, shoulder a heavy load. Still, the documentary is also built around the acidic atmosphere around the team due to the way Jerry Krause and Jerry Reinsdorf managed it.

Considering the financial circumstances and soured relationships around the Bulls at that time, Pippen’s decision to wait on his surgery is a relatively minor offense. And as Kerr says, Pippen had enough built-up goodwill from teammates and others within the organization that he was given the space to make his own decision rather than kowtowing to Jordan or Krause again.

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The Rock Has The Biggest Home Gym I Have Ever Seen

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