WASHINGTON — It's not every day that an infectious disease doctor takes the mound at a Major League Baseball Opening Day. But after endearing himself to the nation amidst the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was called upon to hurl the first pitch at Nats Park Thursday evening.
Sadly, his pitch was... a little wild.
Dr. Fauci was admittedly nervous about making his MLB debut Thursday, and told Nats first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who is sitting out the 2020 season, that he had been practicing his fastball quite a bit.
Unfortunately, it looks like the masked Dr. Fauci needed a few more warmup throws. His ball landed somewhere between home plate and the Nats' dugout entrance. Perhaps the baseball wanted to practice effective social distancing?
Twitter had a field day with Dr. Fauci's performance, calling it a "metaphor for 2020," and a "visual that epitomizes this year."
The 2020 MLB season has been shortened to 60 games due to ongoing coronavirus concerns. But it's not the first shortened MLB season. World War I interrupted both the 1918 and 1919 seasons. Most recently, the 1994 season was affected by a labor negotiation, stopping play for the season in mid-August.
Fans will not be permitted inside stadiums to try to prevent the spread of the virus. Hours before the reigning World Series champions took to the field, Nationals outfielder Juan Soto tested positive for COVID-19.
Soto likely will not return for at least two weeks as he undergoes mandatory quarantine and safety protocols. Other players, including Zimmerman and Joe Ross, have opted out of the season altogether.