Doctor Anthony Fauci, a leading member of the Coronavirus Task Force and the media-ordained sole arbiter of proper behavior during the pandemic, threw the opening pitch of the Major League Baseball season at last night’s game between the New York Yankees and the Washington Nationals. The pitch itself seemed an apt metaphor for his advice, keeping the ball socially distanced from the catcher.
Dr. Anthony Fauci threw out the first pitch before the Nationals-Yankees game. pic.twitter.com/04Tbkh7Voa
— ESPN (@espn) July 23, 2020
The Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases would demure praise of the subtle meaning behind his pitch, blaming the placement on lack of practice. Yet it is possible to interpret his unique approach to the art of throwing a baseball as a clear message concerning not just his policies and recommendations, but the frustrated nature of the Technocratic Man circa 2020, beset upon all sides by unreasonable expectations.
Dr. Fauci’s role as the inspiration in famed Washington doyenne Sally Quinn’s bestselling erotic novel “Happy Endings”, in which his stand-in awakens romance in a widowed First Lady, is widely known. In his performance last night, one can detect the grace and depth of meaning that so inspired Ms. Quinn, otherwise known for her obsession with the occult, to appreciate the work of a man of science.
The pitch is the scene and is the man. A diminutive white baseball – an absurd yet recurring symbol of American masculinity – arches from his talented fingers after a short, to the point delivery from his arm, delicately hanging suspended in the air before drifting artistically away from home plate, yearning perhaps for escape from the confines of cowhide and cork, to reach beyond the limitations of the field of play – representative of an ingenious and complex mind, believing it deserves so much more than to be imprisoned by the momentary demands of politics and policy.
Just like his frequent method of communication, the ball goes zoom. Its trajectory, as with Dr. Fauci himself, proceeded from roughly the middle of the mound into a definite curve, landing firmly to his left. There is deep meaning here for a man who has faced such scrutiny on the right but has been thoroughly embraced, even to the point of sainthood, by the American left.
Fauci tells Fox he pulled his mask down to drink water, and calls his online critics over it "mischievous". pic.twitter.com/NMSQvjJpBR
— Ben Domenech (@bdomenech) July 24, 2020
Even as he used his baseball to demonstrate the ideals of shifting to the left and maintaining perfect social distancing, Dr. Fauci likewise proved the importance of his rules in another ingenious display: by breaking them. With imperfect mask-usage and a lack of social distancing criticized repeatedly by the media, the clever doctor did his part by highlighting the importance of such steps.
He faced criticism for going maskless, in public, due to the emphasis he has placed on their importance, which he called mischievous. He highlighted that taking it down for a sip of water is fine, if you put the mask directly back on once done with he water. Never mind that the water is by his side and his hands are clearly not moving either towards the bottle or the mask – the goal of more attention to the demands of government is accomplished.
Sometimes we can learn something from a pitch. Sometimes we get the hero we deserve. Sometimes a maker of rules must become a breaker of rules in order to assert the importance of rules.