Friday, November 21, 2003

Blowin' in the Wind

You know the famous Giamatti quote about baseball where he says "… and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it goes …"?

Man, oh, man do I feel that lately. I realize more and more how baseball is my anchor, what keeps me grounded, prevents me from blowing away in the wind.

With the daily ritual of following the 162 game baseball season, my life takes on a rhythm and cadence and everything falls into step.

Without that baseball beat (and the hot stove is just an echo, not the real thing, not nearly enough) I can't make sense of it all. Or rather I don't want to.

For instance, why exactly is Michael Jackson the lead story in the media? As Lileks puts it so well, "Two big bombs in Istanbul, and what’s the big story of the day? Following around a pervy slab of albino Play-Doh as he turns himself into the police."

Somehow I know, just know, that if the Red Sox had played last night I wouldn't even be asking such questions myself.

It's not that I want to tune out the world and all the inherent beauty and ugliness that comes with it, I just want it to make a wee bit of sense. I want the clarity that sunshine lighting a baseball diamond never fails to deliver.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Meet the New High Priced Star; Same As the Old High Priced Star?

Add the Curly Haired Bard to the list of those shilling for a move that would bring A-Rod to Boston.

Imagine a multimillion dollar professional athlete, the best player in his sport, making arrangements to take a tour of Harvard when his team makes a road trip to Boston. … A-Rod at Fenway would be a different breed of Red Sox superstar (without doing any research I am prepared to say with absolute certainty that Manny never asked for a tour of Harvard when he came through town with the Indians). Rodriguez is the kind of player who is comfortable with his star status, mingles easily with fans and media, and is eager to learn about his surroundings (Shaughnessy, Globe).

I've got to admit the whole tale of A-Rod at Harvard Yard gives me that feel good fuzziness inside, but before we bring Elizabeth Windsor across the Atlantic to touch the MVP shortstop on each shoulder with a sword to knight him as Sir Alex of All That Is Good and Wonderful, let's pause and consider what some others are writing about Rodriguez:

Rodriguez, according to a source close to him, isn't returning calls from anyone in the Rangers' organization…[and] admitted that he was disturbed by [clubhouse attendant] Bolin's firing.…

The Rangers' contention is that the firing of a clubhouse attendant is a small matter and shouldn't cause an uproar, and basically they're right. But Rodriguez's outrage over Bolin's firing is merely a symptom of a deeper, complex and more serious problem. Rodriguez was clearly unhappy with Showalter even before Bolin was fired. Rangers sources indicate that unhappiness may have stemmed from Showalter's relentless attempts to mold Rodriguez into more of a team leader.…(Reeves, Star-Telegram)

Hmm, sounds to me that A-Rod is lot more like Manny or Pedro with regard to personality then we've been led to believe. If this anger over a clubhouse attendant dismissal and refusal to answer phone calls for team management were taking place by a player in a Boston uniform, something tells me Shaughnessy et al wouldn't be writing about warm and fuzzy trips to Harvard.

So the Big Dog says the deal to make Francona the new Red Sox manager is done. I suspect he's right.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

There Are Writers And Then There Are Writers

When I read a truly terrific piece of writing such as Roger Angell's recent recap of the baseball season in the 11.24.03 issue of New Yorker (hat tip to Steve for the link) there's always at least one line that completely awes me in the same way a Manny upper deck blast awes me or a Pedro high heat called 3rd strike awes me.

In the latest from Angell, it's the last line of this passage that does it:

Place should be reserved however, for the achievement of the switch-hitting Red Sox infielder Bill Mueller who twice hit home runs from different sides o the plate in the same game. The second time he did this, against the home-team Texas Rangers the dingers—first right-handed, then left—came in consecutive innings and were both grand slams. Never before—never nearly before.

Get that: Never nearly before. What a great line.

Of course the whole piece is full of little gems just as good like, " … as I put the play into my scorecard I circled it, for elegance."

Besides excellent writing, another thing that yanked my head back were Angell's two references and quotes to none other than the infamous Dan Shaughnessy of the Globe. It's difficult for me to separate the CHB from all the vile bile he coughs up on us on any given day and so easy to forget that Shaughnessy is a very good writer; indeed, if he wasn't so good he wouldn't get us so agitated.

Finally, I'm indebted to Angell for pointing out this truly fantastic site: Red Sox Haiku. How is that a New York writer can discover a site like that before I can? So not only is Angell a far better writer than I'll ever be, he also is a better web surfer? Dang, I'm eating humble pie for breakfast.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Shadows -- Hold Their Breath

Personally, I'm swearing off any thoughts of counting the proverbial chickens before they've hatched or rather potential roster additions via trade or free agency until the Fenway press conference announcing such. I just got too burned and spurned with the eggless hunt for Contreras and Colon last year that I can't do it again over Foulke or A-Rod or Matsui 2 or the rest.

But says you, isn't that a big part of what makes the so-called hot stove season special, all this rumor and wishful thinking and what if's?

Yep. However for me at least so much of the hot stove season revolves around me staring out the window and wondering about winter and all that it portends.

You know who gets what I mean? Emily Dickinson? Do you like her poems? I do. In her Poem No. 258 she really buzzes inside my November head:

There's a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons--
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes--

That's it, that Heft of the sky this time of year bringing me to my knees …

When it comes, the Landscape listens--
Shadows--hold their breath--

You have to figure Emily Dickinson would have been a Red Sox fan, right? I mean it isn't just that she was a New Englander through and through (and a Puritan, too), but she also certainly had the correct mind set for a fan, you know lines like, "Because I could not stop for Death, he kindly stopped for me…" Has the tenor of a Red Sox fan, no?

One of the most interesting things about Dickinson to me is that she was a shut in. She pretty much never ever left her house in Amherst yet produced some of the greatest poetry in the American canon.

Funny to consider this alongside Michael Moore's recent statements in Germany suggesting that Americans are stupid because we don't travel and that "82 percent of us don't even have a passport!"

Reading Dickinson you quickly realize that the ground you cover in life isn't as important as seeing the world inside your own head, heart, and soul.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Voices Inside My Head (Echo Things That You Said)

While Peter Gammons says the rumor of A-Rod-Nomar Garciaparra-Angels three-way deal is the "stupidest" of the hot stove season, he also plants this little bug in our ears,

So the only deal that Boston could do is Rodriguez-Ramirez. A-Rod's for it. Ramirez's camp is pushing hard. The Red Sox will do it. The Rangers keep insisting there's no way, although there are several voices whispering in John Hart's ear reminding him how much Ramirez likes Hart, what a productive player he is and how the Arlington ballpark is suited to Manny (Gammons, ESPN).

You like? What about when you factor in that such a deal means no mo' Nomar? Still like? (I do.)

Over the weekend the Sunday Washington Post ran a piece by Jennifer Howard suggesting the blogosphere is "a little too cozy" and complains

… to get to the good stuff, you have to wade through more and more self-congratulation and mutual admiration. …it's a popularity contest in which the value of information is confused with the cool quotient of the person spreading it.

Certainly situations in which one baseball blogger interviews another baseball blogger lend support to Howard's thesis that blogs are incestuous, no?

Or maybe it's not incest but rather love of attention by any means necessary?

Any blogger who tells you they don't care at all about links, or stats, or being read by others --- well, that blogger is either lying or wasting their time. Because they have a name for weblogs written by people who don't want other people to ever read them (The Truth Laid Bare).

Whatever the case, I like this sound bite from Andrew Sullivan via Jeff Jarvis:"I think of blogging as the first genuine innovation that came out of the Internet itself."