Friday Question – Beisbol Style

28 03 2008

It seems that a baseball season hasn’t been met with so much teeming anticipation since before the ’94 strike. Attendance skyrocketed last year, and teams like the Phillies have already increased their season ticket sales significantly. That said, so much was made in the War Against Juice of how steroids would mar the image of baseball, America’s virgin game.

Have steroids done a damn thing to hurt the image of baseball?


Don’t Try So Hard…Nature-Style

27 03 2008

This has to be one of the more depressing and obvious revelations about nature. We really should have seen it coming. Turns out, according to Discovery, that female peacocks aren’t in the least bit impressed by the male plumage, that it’s pretty much just wasted effort and ostentation, no matter how great the effort or how pretty the ostentation.

Men just can’t catch a break. Here’s the link.

Pastor Manning, Obama, and Big-Chested Women

26 03 2008

Obama is a Mack Daddy.

That is all.

Having A Catch

25 03 2008

The first time we tried, my father hit me. Mom laughed. My jaw hurt.

The second time we played catch, we used a softer baseball.

As time went on, we worked through bloody noses and broken egos. With the 20-percent-leather black, fluorescent-blue-laced Bo Jackson glove on my left hand, we inched back up to the big leagues of backyard ball. Time aged and Dad and I began to stretch out the yard, the ball arcing across the spring and deep into autumn.

There was a time when catch was the endgame, nothing more. When a simple head nod stole both of us away into the backyard, gloves snapping in the sunlight and tendons tensing and recoiling as the ball rolled off our fingertips — it does roll, we forget, and you feel the rip of the laces just before it takes off. It’s pure. It’s just a line, going back and forth, back and forth, back and forth and I’ll be glad to argue (and we should sometime), that catch is the highest form of human communication.

First of all, there’s not a better forum for bullshitting. You can talk and talk and talk and forget, ultimately, that you’re doing anything beyond talking. Your body goes into a version of automation. Just catch, step, throw.

And not only that, you’re hurtling an object that could do some damage at somebody, expecting they’ll catch it, and then fully expecting they’ll throw it back to you in the only place they should — at your nose. Trust isn’t falling backwards, hoping an employee will catch you. Trust is asking somebody to fire five ounces of nostril-seeking cushioned, corked leather.

But as time ages, so it grows more complex, and catch gives way to more sophisticated games. Catch becomes real ball games. Conversation becomes business. Ideals, joys and passions become commodities. But deep down, all of life’s game’s, just like baseball, are just derived from the simple game of catch.

When you reduce every baseball game, if your team plays catch the best, you’ll win almost every time (because, of course, if the pitcher and catcher are interrupted in their game of catch by your bat, you’ve got yourself a chance). Same as in life. All you ever need to know, you learned in kindergarten? Bullshit. You learn it in Little League. You learn it playing catch.

Giving, sharing, receiving. Working to get better. The beauty in not only precision but experimentation — remember first seeing a curveball? It was like the universe burped.

Catch is where we learn not to get out of the way, that the best way to deal with things is to position yourself directly in front of them. Phil Rizzuto once got a call from an angry mother because her son, who was told by Rizzuto that the best way to catch a pop-up was to ‘put his nose under it’ followed his advice literally.

It’s where we learn that if we work hard enough, we will get better — we will get stronger. But it’s also where, I fear, we’ll learn that we’ll also get worse as we get old.

Catch broke apart, then connected Ray Kinsella and his pop in Field of Dreams. And hell, without that, there’s no If you build it, he will come. Pop Kinsella didn’t come for the steak.

Catch is the reason I went to my prom with a black eye. I was long-tossing before a game my senior year against our archrivals, turned away to mention something to one of my teammates, thought I got the bounce, and then positioned my left eye socket directly in front of the ball’s trajectory. Kid had a hell of an arm, too.

Catch gives us stories. It gives us a chance to build relationships and to reflect on what’s come and what’s ahead. But most importantly, catch gives us a break. Catch pauses time, connects us to the seasons. And on this Tuesday, the first day of the 2008 baseball season, dig out the glove. Smell the leather, the pine tar residue, and remember.

For baseball, put more eloquently than it is on this page, here’s a good list of some baseball quotes. I’m not usually into quote compendiums, but, hey…it’s a special day. And it’ll be a great way to spend 15 minutes at work.

Monday Question

24 03 2008

We walked through the West Village yesterday, a neighborhood studded with boutiques devoted to adorning the human figure. The viscera of the shops rotate ad infinitum, with new lines choking out the ones before it, as part of a system that almost uniformally favors novelty over quality.

That said, is fashion a waste of time?

Balance of Power

20 03 2008

Last night, I had a conversation with a friend of mine who grew up north of Boston. We talked about the upcoming baseball season, really the beginning of the year in The Hub. Time starts and stops with baseball — really the central glory of that town.

We talked a bit about the team this year, about road trips, about fellow Sawcks fans and all that. But we talked most about how uncomfortable he is right now as a fan. We talked about how, for the first time since 2004, the two-town balance has tipped back toward New York.

This time, it wasn’t the Sox’ fault. The scale righted itself to The Big Apple when Eli Manning scrambled out of that almost-sack and flung a ball into the hopeful air and onto the facemask of David Tyree in that final drive of the Super Bowl.

Up to that point, The Bean had the edge. New York, irrepressible as it is, had been virtually silenced. The Yankees had done nothing but disappoint since 2001, and the language most often employed to describe them involved words like ‘end,’ ‘dying dynasty’ and ‘over.’ And the Mets…well, we know what happened last October.

But the Super Bowl was how New York got its groove back. It’s like a golfer who’s been bruising trees all day finally bombing a drive on the fairway or sinking a putt. It changes a round. And, for the past seven years, it’s been one long, obscenity-riddled round.

It’s tough to decide which fanbase is composed of more insufferable fans — New York or Boston. Certainly, both have their diehards that have died harder than many fans in the country can begin to know (bigger market, bigger expectations, bigger crash). But the smugness, the condescension, they only get worse with success.

But what doesn’t is the rivalry. Giants-Pats is never going to be a real rivalry — that win was, at the very best, a fluke. A majestic, allegiance-changing fluke. As my football coach used to tell me, even a blind squirrel finds his nuts sometimes. But when Tyree came down with the ball and Plaxico Burress hauled down that undefended pass in the back of the end zone seconds later, they ensured that the balance of power went back to where it was when this Yanks-Sox rivalry was at its very best.

For the Sox and for Sox fans, it’s necessary to be the anti-Yanks. The US to their USSR, the Ben & Jerry’s to their Donald Trump, the Jen Aniston to their Angelina. Now, whether or not those differences are all illusory (they are), New York’s got the edge again, even on defending champs. The win was just too big, just too unforseen.

And now, Opening Day can’t come fast enough.

List: Mental Devolution, By Month

19 03 2008

January Forgetfulness

February Slight Confusion 

March Madness

April Braking While Driving Uphill

May Moving To Florida

June Talking To Jimmy From Around The Corner About The Good Ol’ Times In The Wrong Town

July Lashing Out

August Targetless and More Confusing Rage

September Inability To Remember Relatives’ Names

October Drools

November Pees

December Soccer Fandom