People throughout the sports world, from athletes to arena staff, tell The New York Times how their lives have changed during the coronavirus pandemic.
Of all the players eager to get started in 2020, Christian Yelich might be at the top of the list. Yelich, the Milwaukee Brewers’ right fielder, broke his kneecap with a foul ball on Sept. 10, ending his season and probably costing him a second consecutive National League Most Valuable Player Award.
Healthy again this spring, Yelich, 28, signed a seven-year, $188.5 million contract extension just before baseball shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic. He is staying at home in Malibu, Calif., with his mother, stepfather and brother Collin, a former minor league catcher.
Yelich has also been working with teammate Ryan Braun and Omar Shaikh — a partner in 3rd Street Market Hall in Milwaukee — to provide meals for health care workers across four hospital networks in Wisconsin.
“We figured if we were in a position to help, we should, especially when it’s going toward hospitals and everybody who’s been fighting this thing,” Yelich said. “They’ve been putting in long hours and have had a rough go of it, so we wanted to show them we appreciate their efforts and people are still thinking about them.”
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and condensed.
Q: I hear you’ve been playing catch in the street with Collin. Is that right?
Yelich: I’ve definitely been taking advantage of having him around. He’s a confident catch partner. It makes it a little easier to at least move the body around a little bit and try not to get too rusty.
You once said that hitting a baseball is so hard, you wonder every off-season if this is the year you’ll go 0 for 500.
If there’s ever going to be a year, this might be the one (laughs). But we’re all just in the same boat, trying to do the best we can. I remember we were playing a spring training game and then two days later we were at home. It happened very quickly.
How are you passing the time otherwise? Have you binged any shows?
I’ve just been watching a lot of Netflix. We usually don’t have this much downtime, so I’m kind of cruising through that whole thing. I’m watching “Peaky Blinders” right now, which is a really good show. I’ve always heard it was but never had the time to check it out. They’re short seasons and you can blow through ’em quick.
What’s up next in the queue?
I’ve got a PlayStation that just showed up, so I might get into video games. They were cool enough to send one out. I guess I’ll give that a shot, see what the gaming world is all about.
When I tell you I don’t know anything about video games, I really know nothing. I’ve heard Call of Duty is pretty cool, and obviously MLB The Show. I figure I’ve got to play as myself in a video game at least one time, right? That’s a cool perk of playing in the big leagues.
What are you eating these days? Any comfort foods?
Just whatever; I guess that’s the plus of being stuck at home — you can figure stuff out. I should probably learn to cook in these times. I’m an awful cook, so it would probably behoove me to learn how to do that. We’ll see how much longer we’re locked up before we start going down that route.
Have you gotten into Zoom? And if so, please tell me you’re Zooming with Bob Uecker.
Ha-ha, I haven’t. I’ve seen some of the Zoom stuff, but I don’t think I have the app yet. So I’ve texted with Ueck a few times, but we haven’t Zoomed. He’s just hangin’, just being himself. He’s pretty funny over text, the same as he is in person. It’s a bright spot in your day whenever you get to hear from him.
How are you getting your sports fix?
Early on I saw some of the replay games they were showing, but mostly now it’s just watching a lot of my own stuff, just to stay sharp and make sure that whenever we do get back, I’m doing some of the things I should do.
What impact do you think baseball can have when and if you finally get going?
I think over the course of history you’ve seen that sports helps heal people and situations. So hopefully when we come out of this, whoever is the first sport back can play a part in that and start helping normalize things and get people back to a normal way of life. Obviously it’s probably going to be tough for a little while, but hopefully sports can be a start or a part of the healing process going forward.