Mitts And Gloves
For Tom Lux
The catcher holds a kangaroo fetus in his,
the firstbaseman's grips a portable hairblower,
but everyone else just stares into theirs
punching a fist into it, stumped
trying to come up with a proper occupant--
The pitcher for example thinks a good stout padlock would go
right in there, but the leftfielder,
perhaps influenced by his environment,
opts for a beercan. The shortstop
informative about the ratio of power to size,
says "Transistor. You know, radio." The
secondbaseman however he just stands and
grins and flapkacks his from hand to hand and back again,
secondbase dopey as always. Alas
cries the thirdbaseman, this void
of vacancy, pure-space beyond our defiant emptiness,--
abyss, haunted by the kiss of balls
we have not missed! Oh absence
delice…The rightfielder looks dis-
gusted at this, he just snorts, hawks, spits
into his and croaks Hey look: heck,
my chaw of tobac fits it perfeck.
The team goes mum, cowhided by
the rectitude of his position, the logic.
Only the centerfielder, who was going back
while this discussion was going on,
putting jets on his cleats to catch the proverbial
does he perhaps have a suggestion…?
As for the ball, off in mid air it dreamily
scratches its stiches and wonders
what it will look like tomorrow when it wakes up
and the doctor removes its bandages—
* * * * * * *
Pitchers are obviously not human. They have the ghosts of dead people in them. You wait there while they glower, put their hand to their mouths, fidget like puppets, while you're waiting to catch the ball.
You give them signs. They usually ignore them. A fast outside curve. High, naturally. And scientifically impossible. Where the batter either strikes out or he doesn't. You either catch it or you don't. You had called for an inside fast ball.
The runners on base either advance or they don't.
In any case
The ghosts of the dead people find it mighty amusing. The pitcher, in his sudden humaness looks toward the dugout in either agony or triumph. You, in either case, have a pair of hot hands.
Even when the game isn't over.
God is a big white baseball that has nothing to do but go in a curve or a straight line. I studied geometry in highschool and know that this is true.
Given these facts the pitcher, the batter, and the catcher all look pretty silly. No Hail Marys
are going to get you out of a position with the bases loaded and no outs, or when you're 0 and 2, or when the ball bounces out to the screen wildly. Off seasons
I often thought of praying to him but could not stand the thought of that big, white, round, omnipotent bastard.
Yet he's there. As the game follows rules he makes them.
I was not the only one who felt these things.
* * * * * * *
From a letter by John Rawls to Owen Fiss on why baseball is the best sport.
Department of Philosophy
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
Saturday, April 18
First: the rules of the game are in equilibrium: that is, from the start, the diamond was made just the right size, the pitcher’s mound just the right distance from home plate, etc., and this makes possible the marvelous plays, such as the double play. The physical layout of the game is perfectly adjusted to the human skills it is meant to display and to call into graceful exercise. Whereas, basketball, e.g., is constantly (or was then) adjusting its rules to get them in balance.
Second: the game does not give unusua1 preference or advantage to special physical types, e.g., to tall men as in basketball. All sorts of abilities can find a place somewhere, the tall and the short etc. can enjoy the game together in different positions.
Third: the game uses all parts of the body: the arms to throw, the legs to run, and to swing the bat, etc.; per contra soccer where you can’t touch the ball. It calls upon speed, accuracy of throw, gifts of sight for batting, shrewdness for pitchers and catchers, etc. And there are all kinds of strategies.
Fourth: all plays of the game are open to view: the spectators and the players can see what is going on. Per contra football where it is hard to know what is happening in the battlefront along the line. Even the umpires can’t see it all, so there is lots of cheating etc. And in basketball, it is hard to know when to call a foul. There are close calls in baseball too, but the umps do very well on the whole, and these close calls arise from the marvelous timing built into the game and not from trying to police cheaters etc.
Fifth: baseball is the only game where scoring is not done with the ball, and this has the remarkable effect of concentrating the excitement of plays at different points of the field at the same time. Will the runner cross the plate before the fielder gets to the ball and throws it to home plate, and so on.
Finally, there is the factor of time, the use of which is a central part of any game. Baseball shares with tennis the idea that time never runs out, as it does in basketball and football and soccer. This means that there is always time for the losing side to make a comeback. The last of the ninth inning becomes one of the most potentially exciting parts of the game. And while the same sometimes happens in tennis also, it seems to happen less often. Cricket, much like baseball (and indeed I must correct my remark above that baseball is the only game where scoring is not done with the ball), does not have a time limit.
* * * * * * *
First umpire: “Some are balls and some are strikes, and I call them as they are.”
Second umpire: “Some are balls and some are strikes, and I call them as I see 'em.”
Third umpire: “Some are balls and some are strikes, but they ain’t nothin' ‘til I call 'em.”
* * * * * * *
"Fix your eye on the ball from the moment the pitcher holds it in his glove. Follow it as he throws to the plate and stay with it until the play is completed. Action takes place only where the ball goes."
"There are one-hundred fifty-four games in a season and you can find one-hundred fifty-four reasons why your team should have won every one of them."
* * * * * * *
I've finally gotten off the fence and decided to napowrimo again this year. Some participants last year actually did it again during the summer, which proves it is the online version of an intense writer's retreat inside your head.
If anything, I have even less time this year, but . . .
Details to follow in the next post.