The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Dodger nine last night. After taking two on the chin in St. Louis, I was getting myself adjusted to being totally wrong. Back on the Sunday that ended the regular season with nine teams still in the running, I had predicted a Boston-Los Angeles World Series, which seemed the least likely scenario until Ortiz lined his grand slam to defeat Detroit at Fenway in late innings Sunday night. But last night Ryu pitched a hell of a game, the Cardinal defense was less than impregnable, and Yasiel Puig (left) got his sweet swing back. 3-0, Los Angeles. Watching Puig hit a triple, even if he thinks it's a home run and watches its progress admiringly from the plate, then belatedly motors all the way to third base when the ball misses clearing the right field wall -- 'tis a thing of beauty. You can't take your eyes off the guy. My friend Stephen thinks Vin Scully's best days are way behind him and he cringes a little listening to the former Fordham flash. As for me, I'd still rather listen to Vin than the TBS Troika plus the
useless fourth guy in the ugly sports jacket who reports sporadically from the
stands. (Mind you, I think Ron Darling -- one of the TBS trio -- is one of the best in the business. As color man complementing Columbian Gary Cohen's play by play duties, Yalie Ron is a key component of Mets' coverage, which is a pleasure even when the team is in a transition year, which it usually seems to be.) Possibly the best TBS moment came when head announcer,
Ernie Johnson, who usually does basketball, reeled off a statistic of
questionable value and then turned to Cal Ripkin and asked which
statistics meant the most to him as a player. "None of them," was the
immediate reply. I don't think the announcers are biased one way or the other. They just need to fill the air, fabricate fake chemistry, and
sprinkle exclamation points on sentences that don't need 'em. If I could
get a radio feed, I'd turn off the TV and listen to whoever is doing
the broadcast. Radio announcers have the responsibility of telling you
what is going on whereas on TV you may miss a two-base hit because the camera
is hunting for famous faces in the box seats. It is, however, nice to
see Dustin Hoffman, who (my wife says) does looks more like me all the time. -- DL
R.A. Dickey would have retired at 30, if not for reinventing himself.
I’ll be turning 30 next month, the age at which most ballplayers’ skills begin to erode. But what about poets? Do you think there is a peak age for turning in your best verse? Do we spend more of our lives on the uptick or the decline?
And what's the poet's best version of learning the knuckleball—that is, an entirely new skill to extend the career?
Gosh, if poets followed the same trajectory as the typical baseball player, it would look something like this:
18 — Begin eking out a living, traveling by bus between small southern and midwestern towns, reading amateur poems that show occasional hints of potential in front of sparse but affectionate audiences who are mostly there for the cheap beer.
22 — Get a shot on a grand stage and embarrass oneself thoroughly, disappointing dozens of onlookers. Then, spend a winter fearful of whether everything you’ve been working toward has all been one big sham.
25 — If not forced into “retirement,” then you are more or less succeeding. The caveat is that the suits dictate your earning potential and you feel a sense of mock-freedom, little more than a dog and pony show helping grind the wheels of industry for someone else’s fortune. Additionally, the late nights and habitual drinking prevent you from developing a normal relationship or family.
28 — Publish your best work, the stuff that will be anthologized decades later. You fail to savor the moment because it all passes so quickly and you’re thinking of nothing but reaching higher peaks.
30 — Only you know that you are already washed up. The others cling to your past achievements while their own fear of mortality prevents them from seeing the inevitable temporality of your beauty.
32 — You hit your biggest payday, yet as soon as the laurels are hefted the critics begin whispering loudly about whether you’re overrated.
36 — Perhaps better to walk away leaving your legacy intact, but you feel strongly that you have more to offer. Your great wisdom, you believe, will make up for your declining mental acuity and slippery sources of inspiration.
42 — They trot you out for one last book-signing and hand-shaking tour. The people who say they grew up enjoying your work are themselves scarcely younger than you. You retire to Peoria and open a chain of chicken huts.
I own plenty of baseball memorabilia, but most of
it’s in storage. Here in my apartment I have a baseball signed by seven Hall of
Famers; a Johnny Damon autograph; an old Ernie Banks card. I also have a neat
issue of SPORT from May 1951, which
my mother picked up for me at a flea market on a lark.
SPORT was a monthly that
predated Sports Illustrated and
featured great color photography and a roster of famed sports writers. The
advertisements are hilarious today, but the articles made demigods out of both the athletes and the
To the younger generations, Grantland Rice is
known as little more than the namesake of Grantland.com,
known for its middle- to high-brow snark. Rice, on the other hand, made his name famous
through the purplest of prose. His legacy focuses on his penchant for aggrandizement and hero
worshiping—something professional sports no doubt needed in the first half of
the 20th century.
My copy of SPORT was issued during Rice’s
50th year as a sports journalist. His assignments had become retrospection, and
his article “The Cavalcade of Baseball” delivers all his signature touches. He
begins with grandiose historical perspective: “Baseball has given this country
more thrills than any other sport ever gave any nation. Baseball has furnished
more entertainment for more people than any game ever invented.”
The essay provides proof of the game’s greatness
through recitation of the greatest hitters, pitchers, and teams Grantland ever
saw. Cobb was the best player; Shoeless Joe was the best hitter. Rube Waddell,
whom Rice played against in college, had “a greater combination of speed and
curves than any pitcher that ever lived.”
The question: does any writer have reason to
remember, let alone study, Grantland Rice today? Is it fair for a kingmaker to be forgotten, or is it just the nature of sports writing?
A longtime Newsweek columnist and son of
Ring, John Lardner’s obituary described him as “a sort of high-priced utility
infielder for top-echelon American magazines.” John grew up around Fitzgerald
and other celebrities, as well as Grantland Rice, due to his father’s career.
Lardner’s entry in my SPORT was one of
those terribly ridiculous human interest pieces, memorializing a diminutive, boozehound
shortstop named Walter “The Rabbit” Maranville. He only fielded fly balls by
the basket catch (at the waist) and was lovingly called “unprintable” names by
Babe Ruth and other friends.
The piece is titled “They’ll Never Forget the
Rabbit,” but I must confess that I had never heard of the Rabbit nor John
Lardner before opening up this magazine.
beer, Power Bilt golf clubs, Western Arms Corp. automatic pistols… The only
mistake Branch Rickey ever made was selling away Chico Carrasquel… “the game
which we call our national pastime today bears about as much resemblance to the
1842 version as a 1951 Cadillac does to a Stutz Bearcat”… Baseball is a TV
headache—the problem of squeezing a whole ball game into a 12½-inch screen is still baffling the video experts…
Anyone who doesn’t score a baseball game, whether he is at the park or watching
the action on his television screen, is short-changing himself”—Red Barber…
With the Dodgers headed to the next round of the playoffs— and the Yankees and Mets bruised–it’s hard not to imagine what NYC would feel like if the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn.
Frank Sinatra memorialized the Dodgers’ move with the melancholy ode “There Used to Be a Ballpark.” It doesn't take a poetry MFA to figure out that it's about the death of childhood, too. Really depressing stuff. Forcing a baseball-related song onto his humble vanity album, baseball announcer Tim McCarver included a version of it on Tim McCarver Sings Selections from the Great American Songbook (a brief listen to free samples will satisfy curiosity).
McCarver, a former All-Star catcher and somehow an Emmy-award winning TV analyst, will announce his last World Series this month. This isn't like the Bums leaving Brooklyn or Mariano Rivera calling it quits. McCarver's exit will receive sarcastic applause. Mercifully, the worst of the ridiculing and chastisement will end.
Finish the sentence however you will: The thing about Tim McCarver’s announcing is, is that his announcing is...
The face of Tim McCarver adorns a mock-Mount Rushmore on the niche blog Awful Announcing. He’s been mocked on “Family Guy,” reviled on Twitter, and muted by millions. Some have filed petitions on Change.org to ask Fox to remove him, as though his employment assaults human decency.
How could someone so bad at a job be elevated to its highest level and remain there for decades?
McCarver’s follies range from would-be Yogiisms (“Bob Gibson is the luckiest pitcher in baseball. He is always pitching when the other team doesn’t score any runs.”) to the flatly erroneous (“It’s a five-letter word. S-t-r-i-k-e.”). Other memorable moments have been more inexplicable, like confusing Barry Bonds with Barry Manilow.
It’s easy to dislike Tim McCarver’s job performance. Yet try articulating why you hate Tim McCarver to someone who doesn’t like sports, and you’ll sound like a cantankerous ass. Where does such venomous anger come from?
McCarver enjoyed a long playing career, mostly remembered for being the trusted catcher of Bob Gibson and Steve Carlton. He won the World Series twice, including the socially tumultuous championship season chronicled in David Halberstam’s narrative October 1964.
Turning to the microphone upon retirement from the game, McCarver played a key role in the modernization of sports announcing. His early work was considered groundbreaking analysis rather than mere commentary.
That he misses the mark for today’s listeners is probably his fault—at 71, McCarver is years younger than many announcers who keep up with the sport and do not incite rage in the listener—but we cannot blame McCarver for Fox’s decision to keep him on the job. Longevity implies tradition, something a television company hopes to create when producing sports shows.
McCarver will likely be heard from again, but never in the All-Star Game or World Series. For better or worse, October television won’t be the same without him.
rather than geographies, drive baseball fandom more than ever. Personnel moves
via free agency, fantasy sports leagues, and streaming broadcasts online all
make it less likely that you feel compelled to root, root, root for the home
team. Better to find the one that speaks to your soul. For these 2013 playoffs,
find your true match with this handy personality guide:
St. Louis Cardinals: You believe that the best Italian food is served in
restaurants with at least one table full of men playing some game that isn’t
poker, but it isn’t dominoes, and you’re not really sure if one of them is the
owner or what. Budweiser may not be the best beer, but it sure quenches your
thirst. If not from Missouri, then your home state can best be described as “a
Los Angeles Dodgers: You take great pleasure in buying things without even
glancing at the price tag.
Atlanta Braves: I
met the parents of Braves outfielders Justin and B.J. Upton this summer, and
let me tell you: good people right there. Just downright good folks all around.
And that’s what cheering for the Atlanta Braves is all about: good pitching and
defense, a mix of power and speed, Ted Turner, hot dogs, apple pie, and Delta
Airlines. Oh, but they still do that tomahawk chant…so, like, you probably need
to be okay with that if you’re going to be a Braves fan. [Note: the Braves
are now out of the playoffs, but don't worry. They never truly go away.]
Love an underdog? Sure, everyone does. We still talk about Pittsburgh as though
the Rust Belt tag will never go away, but take another look. The Andy Warhol
Museum, Carnegie Mellon, reasonable hotel rates. Beautiful terraced parks along
not one, not two, but three rivers! A.J. Burnett isn’t even their best pitcher
anymore. All right, these guys are no longer underdogs. You want an underdog,
try finding October baseball in Birmingham, which was nicknamed “The Pittsburgh
of the South” a hundred years ago. Think about that.
Tampa Bay Rays:
You live in the Tampa/St. Petersburg metropolitan area, love baseball, and had
no established ties to another major league franchise prior to 1998. Perfect,
you’re a Rays fan now. Would you like to go to the beach instead?
Boston Red Sox: How
do you feel about haircuts? They’re the worst, right? Close, but shaving is
worse than haircuts. Shaving is for Yalies. You, contrariwise, went to school
in Boston—er-herm, Cambridge—so you find that when a gentleman attends sporting
matches, he does so not to identify with the athletes, but to bemuse
himself over the hirsute specimens on the field. Any of this working for you?
If so, you’re wicked into the Sox. If not, but you hate the Yankees, then you
are also wicked into the Sox.
The team that brought you Reggie, Rickey, and the Bash Brothers today offers
scintillating OPS+ figures from a roster replete with young men, who, despite
making only $2.4MM per year each, all play professional baseball pretty well.
Detroit Tigers: Bummed about the prospect
of a city selling off fine art to pay debts? Would a 2013 American League
Central Division Champions t-shirt cheer you up?
don’t like intentional walks,” my mother-in-law says, looking up from her iPad
to reveal that she has been paying more attention to the game than I realized.
“I always hope the next batter hits a home run or something.” Like the pitcher
would deserve it for being such a wimp.
might argue with her notion. I could begin a twenty-minute statistics-laden speech
about all the outcomes after putting the man on base. But I know exactly what
she means: just pitch the damn ball.
team has already been eliminated from the playoffs, so I’m watching
academically. It feels neutered at best, masochistic at worst. Like attending a
grade school play starring other people’s children, I assume.
emotion driving the watching experience, there’s nothing to do except think
about all the Moneyball-famed stats
at play. Ya know, ma, the next batter has a terrible
sit and watch the guy getting paid millions toss a ball lazily through the air,
a safe distance away from the limply drooping bat of the would-be batsmen. It’s
a boring play, to be sure, and the fans are always going to boo it, even while
football fans (of lesser intelligence, ostensibly, right?) have a calm
understanding of the even-more-boring quarterback kneel.
get why the intentional walk draws boos, but it’s also dramatic. Tantric, even.
And I don’t mean the sexy statistics found strewn like rose petals in the silky
spreadsheets of Baseball-Reference.com.
because the lack of a time clock is the most objectively superior thing about
baseball. A pitcher cannot win by taking a knee in the middle of the field. He
can’t pass the ball or puck around to his teammates just to kill time.
a pitcher can do is intentionally walk a batter to face a
weaker one instead, or to create a double play possibility. It’s a gamble,
though, and he still must pitch the damn ball to the next guy.
Saturday night in Oakland, scoreless in the bottom of the ninth. The first two
batters get hits. With men at first and third and nobody out, the home team is
almost guaranteed to score and win. The intentional walk merely dents Oakland’s
Wins Probability Added measure.
to the chagrin of my mother-in-law and 40,000 Oakland fans, Detroit’s Al
Alburquerque intentionally walks the next batter, Josh Reddick, a volatile and
cocky kid from Georgia who hit a paltry .226 this year and claims to be,
underneath his survivalist/conspiracist shaggy beard, “way better looking” than
Brad Pitt. The Hollywood version of the guy’s real-life boss. Sometimes you
just can’t let that guy beat you.
Oakland Athletics fans had all spent hundreds of dollars to be there and every
single one had bothered to dress up in the team’s terrible green and yellow
palette. Detroit’s manager makes the smart move, but the Oakland fans deserve a
show. They boo the intentional walk.
delay only makes the exuberance to come moments later all the more cathartic,
some three hours into the scoreless marathon. An unheralded catcher, a goateed
roster-filler, steps up to the plate. The pitcher pitches the damn ball, as
eventually he always must.
Just about everyone I know in Los Angeles knows I am planning to go to Dodger Stadium on Friday evening to watch Clayton Kershaw go for his sixteenth victory in a game of little consequence inasmuch as the team has clinched the division and the fellows are just tuning up before their first playoff opponent next week. It may have no bearing on the pennant race, but I wouldn't call it meaningless: the game is as full of rituals and meanings as a certain kind of epic poem, an Edenic fantasy of the kind that Bart Giamatti loved.
So my friend Eric and I drive up Elysian Park Avenue in his jeep, passing a guy holding a sign begging for a ticket. We park on the left field lot, then walk around to our seats along the right field line. Watching the crowd, which is part of the show, you realize that people have many reasons for going to baseball games and watching the game is only one of them. Peanuts, beer, the seventh-inning stretch, the organ playing "Put on a Happy Face" for old-timers and the YMCA song for green-eyed teens in hoodies, the ubiquitous telephones in camera mode, the woman in provocative courtesan attire with her male friend in a t-shirt that says "that's right, bitch" two rows ahead of us. It's like an amusement park, wwith beachballs even, though I stil fail to understand the attraction of bouncing the thing around the loge or field levels. There's even a bar where you can watch the game on television with Vin Scully's commentary, eat Dodger Dogs and drink old fashioneds in peace and quiet. The bartender takes pride in his work.
In spite of all temptations we are intent on watching the game, not the scoreboard. In the top of the first, Kershaw takes care of the Rockies with exteme prejudice -- maybe a dozen pitches at most. The Dodgers get a base hit from Crawford, another from Gonzalez, then Uribe slams a double to the wall, Ellis the catcher singles and goes to second on a misguided throw, then Ellis the second baseman does the exact same thing, and LA is up 4-0. A couple of innings go by. Gonzalez, nicknamed A-Gon, homers to right -- it's his hundredth RBI of the season. Crawford's three-run home run is a beautiful arc just inside the foul pole in right field. It lifts the game to 8-0 and the rout is on. Kershaw has had the worst run support of any Dodger starter but they're making up for it tonight. Now it's 10-0, thanks to an A.J. Ellis two-run shot.
Well, there's little for a Dodger fan to dislike in a game that ends 11-0 in favor of the boys in blue. This is what I wrote to a fellow enthusiast in the immedate aftermath:
<<< Kershaw has an arresting motion and is
righteously competitive at the plate; he was on base for the three-run
homer. I think this victory, lowering his league-best era and adding to
his strikeout lead, assures him the Cy Young. Puig threw an out-of-play
ball in the general direction of where we were sitting and a man in the
next row captured it. Otherwise Puig did nothing spectacular although
his very presence is electric whether fouling a ball off his foot,
spinning around at the plate, or nonchalantly catching a fly ball. Kemp
made a gorgeous play. Mark Ellis made a tough play look routine. I
believe the Dodgers lead the major leagues in shutouts, and tonight may
have brought the total up to twenty-one. The poor Rockies, hapless in
the field, over-matched by Kershaw through the first six innings, made Marmol, Capuano, and League, who pitched the seventh, eight, and ninth,
look like the legal team you'd least like to go up against in a
weak-case suit. Kershaw's bow on the dugout steps in the bottom of the
sixth when he knew he was going to be lifted was probably the nicest
moment of the night. Now if they would only hit like this in the
playoffs. . . >>>
Red Smith would never have predicted that the illustrious Library of America would collect the columns he typed on short deadlines for the New York Herald Tribune, publish them lovingly in the new book American Pastimes, and dub him "America's greatest sportswriter." The involvement of the Library of America -- which has published two volumes by A. J. Liebling, including The Sweet Science, his masterly book on boxing -- reflects the growing recognition of sportswriting as a craft and Smith's elevated standing in the scribes' fraternity.
Smith sat in the press box and, in his phrase, "opened a vein" when it came time to stare at the typewriter. Barely minutes had gone by since Bobby Thomson won the 1951 pennant for the Giants ("Reality has strangled invention"). Or Rocky Marciano knocked out Jersey Joe Walcott (left) or Archie Moore (Rocky threw "a left that made him curtsy like a convent girl"). Or Secretariat pulled away from the field at Belmont on June 9, 1973 ("It seems a little greedy to win by thirty-one lengths," the horse's owner said). Twenty years earlier, when the Yankees beat the Dodgers for their fifth World Championship in a row, Smith wrote a column that in the new book bears this title, a pull quote from the piece: "Like Rooting for U. S Steel." Reading that, I wondered whether the Godfather auteurs remembered this line about the New York Yankees and their fans when they had mob boss Hyman Roth say "Michael, we're bigger than U. S. Steel."
It has been a long time since U. S. Steel was the measure of power, size, and importance. American Pastimes: The Very Best of Red Smith, edited by Daniel Okrent, comes from that time as remote from us now and as filled with nostalgic glamour as the early seasons of Mad Men. You could, if you were a lazier columnist than Smith, call it the golden age of American sport; certainly it might have seemed that way to a lad in Washington Heights spoiled by having three major league teams within subway distance, not to mention the football Giants with glamour boy Frank Gifford, a triple threat in the backfield.
Joe DiMaggio (pictured at right, with wife) patrolled center field for the Yankees, and when he stepped down, Mickey Mantle came along to take his place. Willie Mays played center for the Giants, who, with Leo Durocher at the helm ("a controversial guy, and that may be the the understatement of the decade"), won an unlikely four-game World Series sweep of the heavily favored Cleveland Indians in 1954. Sugar Ray Robinson, often called the best "pound for pound" fighter in any weight class, performed regularly at the Garden. Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis, Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside, made Army a college football powerhouse up at West Point, fifty-five miles north of the city limits. Between 1949 and 1960, Casey Stengel managed the Bronx Bombers to ten pennants in twelve years. In 1947, Branch Rickey ("the greatest of all double-talk monologists") put a Brooklyn Dodger uniform on Jackie Robinson and revolutionized the national pastime.
Red Smith made an art of deadline sportwriting. He was especially handy with a simile. When Sugar Ray, past his prime, fought Carmen Basilio in 1958,
Smith conjectures: "Maybe, like an aging shortstop, he can no longer go
to his right." Or consider these sentences from his piece about the fabled 1947 World Series game in which the Dodgers' Cookie Lavagetto ruined the Yankees' Floyd Bevens's no-hit bid with a bottom-of-the-ninth game-winning two-out double. "In the third [inning] Johnny Lindell caught Jackie Robinson's foul fly like Doc Blanchard hitting the Notre Dame line and came to his feet unbruised. In the fourth Joe DiMaggio caught Gene Hermanski's monstrous drive like a well-fed banquet guest picking his teeth." In the same game, right-fielder Tommy Henrich took a hit away from Hermanski: "Henrich backed against the board and leaped either four or fourteen feet into the air. He stayed aloft so long he looked like an empty uniform hanging in its locker. When he came down he had the ball."
To write for a newspaper requires a strict brevity of means. It takes artistry to write in short paragraphs, as in this one about Brooklyn southpaw Carl Erskine, hero of game five of the 1952 World Series: "Erskine is an agreeable young man with good habits and an equally good overhand cure. He does not drink, does not smoke, and does not choke in the clutch. On out-of-town business trips, while his playmates sit in the hotel lobby waiting for somebody to discard a newspaper, he visits art museums." There is wit in Smith's parallel structures and word choices -- playmates! -- but what I like most here is this glimpse into road-trip life, circa 1952.
An enthusiast at the core, Smith has his sour moments. He is down
on Jersey Joe Walcott (for being old) and Ted Williams (for spitting at
fans and press in August 1956). Williams's "moist expression of
contempt" was "bush," Smith writes, though he graciously does his best nevertheless "to
understand and be patient with this painfully introverted, oddly
immature thirty-year-old veteran of two wars."
Like every other writer, Smith is far from infallible. He writes off Muhammad Ali too fast after Joe Frazier beat him at the Garden in March 1971: "If they fought a dozen times, Joe Frazier would whip Muhammad Ali a dozen times. And it would get easier as they went along." The columnist is right to voice a city's anger and anguish when its beloved National League teams de-camped for the West Coast at the end of the 1957 season. Their departure from New York "is an unrelieved calamity, a grievous loss to the city and to baseball, a shattering blow to the prestige of the National League, an indictment of the men operating the clubs and the men governing the city." Two years later, a certain amount of revisionism has set in. Baseball's West Coast expansion "was a development long overdue and greatly to be desired, but effected in an atmosphere of deceitful contriving which left the game wearing the dollar sign like a brand."
American Pastimes has been edited, and is introduced, with
exemplary intelligence by Daniel Okrent. Chapter heading are wonderful. What had been "Nice Guys Finish" -- the piece about the exodus of the Dodgers and Giants to the Pacific Coast -- now sports the title "East Goes West and League Goes South." There is one error, no doubt a simple oversight, that should be fixed in the next printing. In
an October 1966 piece recollecting Fridays in previous decades at Madison Square Garden, Smith would never have referred to "Rocky Marciano's
three wars with Tony Zale." It was a competely different Rocky,
Graziano, the middleweight, who did battle with Zale. I make a point of it because Rocky
Graziano was the first prize-fighter to take my fancy: I was eight years old and saw "Somebody Up
There Likes Me" with my parents and sisters at a drive-in movie. Paul
Newman played Graziano.
The sportswriter's occupational risk is hyperbole, and Smith is not exempt. Of Whirlaway, winner of racing's Triple Crown the 1941, Smith writes, the colt "was Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey, Bill Tilden, Bobby Jones -- not just a champion but. . ." -- you finish the sentence. The remarkable thing is how few lapses there are in such a long career.
Like A. J. Liebling, Red Smith writes with particular verve about Marciano. The undefeated heavyweight champion was "victorious, invincible, indestructible." But it is DiMaggio who best fits Smith's idea of the heroic athlete, the demigod who does everything with majesty and grace -- and is therefore the proper model for a prose stylist, doing his job with consistency and skill and without ostentation or temperament. Joltin' Joe's exploits lubricated the Red Smith simile machine. In a game against the Red Sox in 1950, Bobby Doerr hit what looked to be a sure double when "Joe raced in on a long angle to his left, thrust out his glove, palm up like a landlord taking a payoff under the table."
When DiMaggio retired in October 1951, "the simple, flat fact [is] that the greatest ballplayer of our day and one of the greatest of any day quit baseball yesterday." In the last column Smith ever wrote, dated January 11, 1982, he admits he is sometimes prone to disappointment with the current crop of ballplayers. But he fights it off. "I told myself not to worry," he writes. And then comes this, his last sentence: "Some day there would be another Joe DiMaggio."
A man’s sperm bears a curious resemblance to the man
himself – to his character, I should say.
A woman’s egg bears an astonishing resemblance to that
Both sperm and egg are tiny. The sperm is very long
and totally single-minded. The egg expresses ennui and harmony in one stroke.
Its shape is nearly that of a sphere.
Not all sperm are like a man’s. The sperm of a crab, and
even more so that of a crayfish, resemble the corolla of a flower. The supple,
radiant arms seem to be reaching out not to a female but to heaven.
Given the regularity of crab reproduction, you might
well suppose that these decapod crustaceans know what they’re doing.
In fact, we know nothing about the heaven of the crab,
although there are people who catch crabs and dangle them by the tentacles, the
better to observe them. We know even less about the heaven of the sperm of the
-- Henri Michaux, “Le Ciel du Spermatozoide” (trans.
In 1965, the scout watched Seaver pitch for USC and wrote, "This boy showed a real good fast ball with good life … boy has plenty of desire to pitch and wants to beat you." The scout was Tom Lasorda, the future Hall of Fame manager who was, at the time, best known as a Dodger lifer, a southpaw pitcher who had come up with Koufax but failed to stick to the major league club.