Saturday, February 15, 2003

Sunshine State

So much news pouring out of Fort Myers that I don't know what to focus on.

  • "I think I will (stay in the rotation) because of the bullpen we have this year. I think this year there's a good chance I'm going to stay where I start." — Tim Wakefield
  • "Seen at the first day of Spring Training: Josh Byrnes, our young Asst. GM grabs a glove and helps out with 1B drills for Giambi. Theo Epstein, our (even) younger GM volunteers to be a base-runner during those same drills. This actually happened. Think about that. Does it get any better?" — Ken Decosta, reader comment
  • "If the manager gives me the ball, I will try to beat the Yankees. I will try my best to help my team beat them. It's my job. It's baseball, you know." — Ramiro Mendoza
  • "I don't care who they take as closer as long as the guy who starts the ninth inning finishes the ninth inning, win or lose." — Alan Embree

From yesterday, the Eyes on the Prize answers:

a. Garciaparra b. Mendoza c. Walker d. Mueller e. Ramirez f. Martinez g. Varitek h. Damon i. Nixon

Friday, February 14, 2003

Eyes on the Prize

Since I put everyone through maudlin Thursday yesterday, today I'm giving you fun Friday. ("I am large; I contain multitudes.")

Match the eye with the correct Red Sox player.

a b c d e f g h i


  • Damon
  • Garciaparra
  • Martinez
  • Mendoza
  • Mueller
  • Nixon
  • Ramirez
  • Varitek
  • Walker

Answers posted tomorrow.

If you're feeling confident, leave your match game choices in a comment.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

There a Strange Thing and a Known Thing Here

Avenger missles on military Humvee with Capitol dome in background

Hmm … sure sign of spring is when the Avenger missiles bloom in our nation's capitol.

The great American poet e.e. cummings wrote,

Spring is like a perhaps hand 
(which comes carefully 
out of Nowhere)arranging 
a window,into which people look(while 
people stare
arranging and changing placing 
carefully there a strange 
thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

Well, certainly the Humvee with the Avenger missiles qualifies as a strange thing and appears carefully placed, while the Capitol Dome is a very much known thing. And it all seems to have come out of Nowhere.

So it may as well be Spring!

And, honestly, I'm kind of losing it. No, no, I'm not living in fear, not duct taping a safe room in my house … but I'd be dishonest if didn't admit to being off balance, uncertain, scattered …

I just don't feel like my same old self. Case in point: I've waited patiently since the end of the 2002 season last October for Spring Training to start up again this season, but now that it is here I'm not feeling much of anything.

While, yes, I'm happy to hear that Jeremy Giambi is in camp early and is hungry to play first every day and get 500 at bats, the news seems like just another passing cliche, neither here nor there, detached, a "Hi, how are you?" "Fine, and you?" going through the motions.

It's probably just a phase, eh? I'll probably return to normal once the season starts, right?

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Eating Goober Peas

So I'm driving to work today and along the way I see a guy in a pickup truck wearing a baseball cap in which the whole cap is made to look like it's of material from the Confederate battle flag, the stars and bars as they say, and across the back window of of his pickup's cab is in fact the Confederate flag in full glory or infamy depending on your persuasion (and possibly skin pigmentation), and while I'm sympathetic to the notion of a Southern heritage, I know, just know deep down in my gut that this guy hasn't bedecked himself in the regalia of the Confederacy as a historical reminder of our Nation's rift, but rather as gauntlet, a warning that he's still fighting the war inside his head and heart.

Sad. In many ways we all are still fighting the Civil War. And baseball is part of that battle according to Ken Burns, creator of the highly acclaimed "The Civil War" and "Baseball" documentaries and hard core Red Sox fan.

In an interview with Alex Belth of Bronx Banter, Ken Burns reflects,

[After finishing the "Civil War" film we imagined] this nice, pleasant, short thing on … A celebration of the history of baseball. And it wasn't until we got into it that we suddenly realized, we aren't doing a short history of baseball, we're doing the sequel to the "Civil War …. I began to see, how particularly when you realize that Jackie Robinson was the first real progress in Civil Rights since the Civil War, that "Baseball" was the sequel to that series …

And, as has been pointed out before, the Red Sox have played a sad role in that history.

But there are better days on the road ahead, although, at times, we are going to run into guys in pickup trucks flying the Confederate flag and eating goober peas.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

"I Don't Care If I Never Get Back …"

This year's MLB Opening Day is in Tokyo with Seattle going against Oakland.

Guess we won't be having an Opening Day in Europe any time soon, eh?

… anti-Americanism, West European-style, is widespread, rising and migrating from its traditional home among left-wing intellectuals, academics and cafe society to the political mainstream, according to analysts, critics and public opinion polls. … The immediate focus might be U.S. policy toward Iraq, but the larger emerging theme is an abiding sense of fear and loathing of American power, policies and motives ( Frankel, Washington Post).

Might do the Europeans some good to sit down and take in nine innings of our national pastime. Perhaps it would give them a better sense of what it is they allegedly loathe.

As the baseball sage A. Bartlett Giamatti writes,

… baseball, in all its dimensions, best mirrors the condition of freedom for Americans that Americans ever guard and aspire to … because baseball simulates and stimulates the condition of freedom, Americans identify the game with the country ("Baseball as Narrative").

So Frenchies, put down the pâte and buy yourself some peanuts and cracker jack. And Germans, well, compare a game of soccer, the oh so orderly and precise style your national team has built a reputation on, with the what takes place in our ballparks.

… baseball is counterpoint: stability vying with volatility, tradition with the quest for a new edge, ancient rhythms and ever-new blood — and oft-told tale, repeated in every game and every season, season after season …a vast communal poem about separation, loss, and the hope for reunion (Giamatti).

Stability vying with volatility. Any similarities there with American foreign policy in the last fifty years and coming to a head at this very moment?

To know baseball is to know America. Pass the peanuts …

And it's one, two, three strikes you're out at the old ball game.

Monday, February 10, 2003

Don't Fear the Reaper?

After reading the story about Derek Lowe's skin cancer yesterday, I was too caught up in my own mortality to write a word.

"It's human nature to think you're fine. You train your body to deal with pain. But I never thought in a million years I could get skin cancer, especially when I'm only 29 years old" (Edes, Globe).


Hands up: Who else is like Lowe in the "keep putting it off" regarding going to the doctor? Count me in that group. That doesn't mean, of course, that I don't exhibit hypochondriac tendencies. I do. I just like to keep my inner feelings of biological doom to myself. Nearly everything having to do with the world of medicine gives me the heeby jeebies.

Related to mortality, though of a different sort, Clay Shirky asserts that the fecund period for new blog growth may be at an end:

Though there are more new bloggers and more new readers every day, most of the new readers are adding to the traffic of the top few blogs, while most new blogs are getting below average traffic, a gap that will grow as the weblog world does. It's not impossible to launch a good new blog and become widely read, but it's harder than it was last year, and it will be harder still next year. (Shirkey, "Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality").

If you've been thinking about starting your own blog, better move quickly; Shirky is on to something.