ARLINGTON, Texas — Getting the opportunity to see their son, Austin, play in the World Series for the Rays — especially given his travails this season with a case of COVID-19, a sluggish start and a strained oblique — has been a wonderfully rewarding and prideful experience for Staci and Kenny Meadows.
But not getting to see Austin before or after games due to the coronavirus restrictions has been remarkably frustrating.
"It's incredibly difficult, because for me as a mom I just want to hug him," Staci said in the stands before Game 3 on Friday. "We miss him. I can't wait to hug him. I want to hug him so badly. ... It's killing me. It's absolutely killing me."
The litany of things that have made this major-league season, this postseason, and certainly this World Series different extends to the families of those participating.
Players, coaches and staff in the traveling party have been quarantined and living in bubble-style hotels since the last week of September. More than 15 Rays players have had their wives — and some their kids — with them the entire time, from St. Petersburg to San Diego to Arlington over the last month.
But for others, it's a longer-distance connection, limited to a view from the stands and hopes for eye contact and a wave, such as the players' parents, who were allowed into the otherwise closed-door American League playoff games at Tropicana Field and Petco Park.
And now also for their brothers and sisters, close friends, and even the wives and kids who didn't go into the bubble, who are seated among the limited number and socially distanced fans at Globe Life Field for the Series.
"It's been a little tough," said Greg Glasnow, father of pitcher Tyler. "It'll be great when we win that last game and we're able to go out and have dinner with him and stuff. That's what we're used to doing. Go to dinner with him, go to breakfast. And these big-leaguers are really good at finding the best breakfast place in town."
Life in the bubble has been good, for the most part.