by Crazy Horse
Mon Nov 1st, 2010 at 06:55:42 PM EST
Recognizing bread and circus isn't the hottest topic around these parts, not to mention baseball (there, a mention), the david Giants meet up in the 3rd game of the best-of-seven series against the philadelphia cheese steak goliaths. first pitch at the civilized time for Yurpeens of 10:19 in the evening.
each team has won one, but tonight is the first back in San Francisco, in the world's most beautiful bread and circus arena, for the next three games. some of us are pretty jazzed even to be in this situation.
As debt financing for the Pennant Project is not yet in place, the Giants (or Jints, as they were called when still fighting against the Yankees in Nueva York), are forced to reshuffle their lineup, now stacked with right-handers in a nod to Yurpeen politics. this is the most powerful lineup the Jints can field, but pales against the mighty phillies, who are illiterate rednecks who make signs asking Giant players to fix their teeth.
as there's still over an hour to go 'til first pitch, and the writer has discovered ants and poisonous spiders on his butt and can't sit still, he's decided to offer a screed to the gods of baseball, who are far more worldly and forgiving than most of the other gods running amok around the planet.
baseball is a game built around a diamond, pure and shining. starting with a diamond, it's hard to go wrong, even though invertebrate capitalists own the teams. throw equal parts of athletics, chess and ballet into the mix, play the game almost every day from April 'til October, and you've got the makings of a summer-long spectacle best summed up, while remembering summer smells of your youth, as "The Thrill of the Grass."
Sure, football players run more, sometimes even twice a week (respect!), but they don't play every day, and don't have to spend sometimes four or five hours getting loose enough to react in 2/10ths of a second (or less) over and over, sometimes making a decision in that time which will only play out 30 or 40 meters later on the run.
batters have the same amount of time to decide if they should move the muscles enough to swing at the ball, somewhat complicated by having to put the bat where you think the ball will be when you think the ball will be there, not counting that you don't know for sure what kind of a thrown pitch it is, curving this way or that, or not, and coming straight at you at up to 160 kmh.
there are athletics involved for survival of course, as in when Cody Ross breaks up two no-hitters in a row with home runs (adding a second against one pitcher), so the next time this 160kmh pitch is aimed at your lower jaw, or "chin music" as it's called in "the show."
(it's a good idea to spin away, if your muscles can twitch that quickly.) the balls are really hard leather.
scientists have proven that a curve ball doesn't curve, but of course most scientists have never had to hit a breaking ball with 60,000 people watching as if their world only exists if you hit the damn squiggly thing that's bearing in like a rocket. perhaps they have a point, saying it's the difference between two types of human vision, with the focus only being two degrees wide on either side of the ball, and the rest is peripheral, which our brains can't properly assimilate, much less decide where to put the sweet spot of a two kilo plus piece of wood at full strength over a 2m square of possibility.
i still wake up in the middle of the night because i took a solid, sometimes mighty, swing at an imaginary leather ball thrown into my wheelhouse. (Conversely, i've picked a bullet one-hopper low to the ground fielding the glove across my body sprawled out full about a half meter above the ground, scrambling to get into some semblance of throwing position, only to find i'm still in bed.)
People wiser than me have said that amurka's given three beautiful things to the world, jazz, baseball, and i forget the third, but it wasn't laser-guided. jazz and baseball (hold on there, if you include jazz, you have to include the whole melting pot of music, up to and including the history of r'n'b and blues, and from a techno-centric point of view, John Cage. Well, ok, good point, i'll include it all by saying Duke Ellington was the most influential composer of the modern world.) where wuz eye?
hell with jazz, less than 40 minutes `til first pitch. watch me squash those ants.
if you've never seen ballet in sports, you haven't seen when the 2nd baseman or shortstop takes a feed at second as an athletic body with sharpened steel spikes held high and fast is sliding into your legs as you attempt to catch the ball, touch the bag, and wheel and fire a seed to first to complete a double play. eye remember watching Baryshnikov's face the first time HE saw that happen.
but enough about baseball, i did get to work with Mischa himself (as a choreographed stagehand, at the Zeche Zollverein yurpeen dance center in Essen), and he remembered me when we first met at Tosca's in frisco, though i was more interested in his then girl Jessica Lange, which he also remembered.
but i've never seen Mischa with eyeblack under his eyes to cut the glare, the game is played in summer after all.
When i played hardball up to the age of 45, against guys much younger, i used to say, thinking of my so-called wind energy career, that after playing third base, there wasn't a lawyer in the world who could get one past me.
my reflexes are somewhat dimmed now, what with writing due diligence analysis of the way the kinetic energy in the wind is turned into electrons, but i'd still like to think i learned something by playing the game that has its own gods, who are both merciless and compassionate without end. old baseball salts used to say, stick around long enough, you'll see something new. (and that in the game with the most statistical analysis since statistics were first used to analyze stats.)
i suppose i should put up a graph now, comparing two players lifetime at bats against left-handed pitchers with 1-2 count and a man on second, but i won't.
i should also make a prediction on tonight's game, but i won't. the difference between a superstar and a journeyman is such a small fraction. i will only say that both teams have superstar pitching, and the Jints are merely journeymen at the plate. But!
But. Statistics do tend to underestimate heart, even with linear regression. Giants take game three behind Matt Cain, because they're able.
I done good, in eight minutes, i get to watch Fox on my cinema screen, if the laptop holds up.
PS. Baseball is full of amazing writers, in fact, a big part of amurkan writing history. But the best writer was a Yankee catcher named Yogi even before eastern religion became a buzz mindset for the West. he said simple things, like "No one goes there anymore, it's too popular." or perhaps you've heard, "it's not over `til the fat lady sings."
Update [2010-10-29 7:2:42 by Crazy Horse]:
i will update this diary with brilliantly captivating descriptions of the first two Giants' wins, against the demoralized Klansmen, but for now be aware that just in time for Halloween, the old testatment phrase FEAR THE BEARD is entering the amurkan vernacular.
(notice The Machine in the background. and yes, Brian Wilson has a mohawk.)
(dammit, where's the new poll? somebody please help me figure the update editing thing, danke.)
Free ADD thoughts flowing about the game, as i try to keep the nerves down before tonight's 1st pitch in less than two hours.
• the Giant's leadoff hitter is the first player to admit to being attention deficit, which is a good thing. For all the youth with the real disease, and for all the misdiagnosed youth. Go Torres. (Plus, more importantly, Torres gets to play on Ritalin. Eat your heart out, Pete Rose. (ed. Rose played his entire career on speed.)
• there's something very soothing about a sport which allows hundreds of short, quiet breaks, which allows both teams to adjust strategy, and for individual players to be ready for different reactions.
• for fans, this break brings time to discuss ever fluid situational changes.
• Baseball is perhaps the only world sport in which you're allowed to use gris-gris infested voudun chicken bones to rub up your bat before you hit.
• Can any ET'er grok how satisfying it is to see Barbara Bush, sitting between husband and son presidents and criminals in chief, keeping score diligently of a game in which the Giants shut her Texans down 4-0?
• Nach dem Spiel ist vor dem Spiel. A baseball season is almost every day, with each team playing 162 games. (The historic season, before expansion, was always 154 games.) That's a lot of ball.
• One of the greatest managers of all time took over the helm of Helen's NuYorican Mets. Halfway through the season, he asked, "Can't anyone here play this game?"
• My grandfather would hardly say a word if he was around right now, but he would be wound up tighter than a screwball. I love that i paid to put a brick at the entrance to the stadium in his honor.
• There are several thousand ways to grip and throw a baseball, so that it does things which completely confound not only batters, but the physicists who have nothing better to do than study baseball and prove that curves don't curve. Only some of these thousand of ways involve foreign substances... but a spitball is really hard to hit, since nobody knows what it will do until the wave form is already collapsed.
• The selflessness of a well-placed sacrifice bunt is almost holy.
• There is no better feeling in the world, sex excluded, than drilling a belt-high fastball on the sweet spot of the bat. Fouling one off the hands (part of the bat) hurts, and down from the sweet spot you have to muscle it out. There is no feeling, except effortlessness, when you time it right on the sweet spot. The ball is long gone before you experience the exhilaration.
• There are many Giants in the Hall of Fame, who never achieved a World Series crown. Would be fitting if this team of misfits and castoffs, coupled with the most awesome homegrown pitching staff in modern times, brought home the crown.
• A fair number of wind energy deals were discussed and/or put to bed sitting along the first base line at the old stadium. Before the first at bat of the Giants, the first base coach, later the manager, would turn and doff his hat to us, as superstition. (i once saw 64 games of a 81 game home season, when the Giants lost 100. so much for superstition.)
• Old man Rentaria was as beautiful as old man Baryshnikov last night turning the double play, even better in slo-motion.
• I lived 7 years in a house alone in the deep woods (where i also had a tipi) owned by Ring Lardner Jr., a great baseball writer. sometimes i paid rent. i had a snare drum made from the same wood used for some of today's bats, and it sounded deep.
• it's time for some breathing exercises, involving an aged liquid made from grapes, as i can't take it anymore. i expect the unexpected tonight, as two of the best pitchers in baseball go at each other.
• The Texas jeezuz freak complained about the smell of good grass being smoked in the bleachers in San Fran. one of my friends said the reason for the humiliating at bats from one of our stars was that he was distracted by the smell of books being burnt in the Texas stands.
• Night all, if my hyperoverampedness comes around again, i'll be in the comments. 1st pitch one hour. Go Giants.