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From Journal contributor Seligman, an ode to the Isotopes

Isotopes Park sits empty on what would be the eve of the Albuquerque Isotopes’ 2020 home opener last April. Despite much of minor league baseball preparing to come back into play in 2021, the state’s public health order currently allows no fans at pro games. The Isotopes have said they won’t have home games without fans. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

(Editor’s note: Occasional Journal contributor Noah Seligman offered this prose after being inspired by the news that the Albuquerque Isotopes have a 2021 schedule, but — currently — no plans to play at home because of the state’s public health order restrictions.)

Flatten the Curve(ball)

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the ABQ nine that day:

The ticket revenue wasn’t possible, fans had to keep away

And then when home games died at first, and promotions did the same,

A pall-like silence fell upon empty stands, the Governor faced the blame.

Noah Seligman


A straggling few ushers got up in despair. Their services academic

Clung to hope fans would return upon end of this pandemic

They thought, “If only vaccines could open the gates with impunity,

We’d make honest money now, mass vaccinations for herd immunity.”



But Pfizer preceded Moderna, as did other hopeful lot

And the former meant a double and the latter a single shot

So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,

For there seemed but little chance of fans live for any home at-bat.



But clinical trials produced an antidote to the wonderment of all,

And Big Pharma, the much despised, promised doses by the fall

And when COVID numbers shifted, the ‘Topes wondered what it’d mean

There was Sandoval getting better and Bernalillo thinking “Green.”



Then from Isotope fans and more there rose a masked cry;

It rumbled through Rio Grande valley, it rattled the ‘Big I’;

It pounded on the Sandias and recoiled upon this rhyming

For baseball, mighty baseball, was returning to the diamond.



There is ease in baseball’s manner stretching spring to chile roasting

There was pride in baseball’s bearing a sort of patriotic boasting

And when hearing silent cheers, baseball goes on AAA prime

No stranger in an empty crowd could doubt fans return was past time.



And now the physical distance felt much longer than just 90 feet

As fans pined for live action baseball not until COVID is beat.

Close by frontline workers struggled, over 3,500 New Mexicans dead

“That ain’t my style,” said baseball. “Stay home,” the virus said.



With a smile of human charity great baseball’s visage shone

It stills the rising tumult; with radio and TV megaphone;

the satellites in Orbit provide everyone a signal boostin’

Or you could steal a signal, but that only works in Houston.



“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and an echo answered “Fraud!”

But one scornful look at case numbers and the audience was cowed.

The fans knew that 182,000 cases was nothing to hear and chafe

And they knew what baseball knows; if you’re not out you’re safe.



Oh, everywhere in this enchanted land the sun is shining bright,

The band is playing Zoom shows, and somewhere hearts are light;

And somewhere men are laughing, school kids home because Corona

But there is no joy in Isotopes Park, the ‘Topes are in Arizona.