Thursday, February 03, 2005

Baseball Lit 101

That was a well-written coming of age story – a tear-jerker in fact! - and I promise I'll write the reasons I bleed Curt Schilling red before the season starts. Nathan’s essay reminded me of the historian type of baseball writers – David Halberstam, Ken Burns, Leigh Montville – who I tend to like. Of course, one synapse led to another in my brain and made me realize I have a little author-related 'roid rage I need to put on paper. Here goes:

I've always been repulsed by the "literary" wing of the baseball library. And I’m embarrassed that, whenever it’s time to cue the violins, the poets’ go-to team is always the Sox. You know who they are. Fenway is a metaphor for America; the "lyric little bandbox"; New Englanders are like harsh New England winters; blibbety blibbety barf.

Baseball is baseball, folks. It's not life, it's not poetry. It's just a really really great sport that lends itself to unbearable suspense and spectacular plot twists. So just tell it to me straight – baseball doesn’t need any embellishing. I wouldn't trade one Roger Angell for 162 of your Updikes. I fall for the romance of The Natural and Field of Dreams, but if allowed one movie on a desert island, I'll take Bull Durham.

Which reminds me: it’s not just an American pastime. I’ll bet it’s equally if not more integral to the fabric of the Dominican, for example. Or Japan or Taiwan. Don’t you?

And as long as we're on the subject of writers, you can keep the doomsayers too. Dan Shaughnessy, I'm talkin’ to you! Since ’78 and then ’86 you not only stoked the coals of the curse, you profited from it. You did everything you could to extend it by creating dissension and controversy on the team. You became the curse. You and your negative karma, your Globe buddies, and those nit-picking weasels at WEEI. Now, do us all a favor and move to Chicago. Since your propaganda got Nomar thrown out of town, you should be forced to live with him. And Mia. You idiot.

Greatest baseball writers:

1. Roger Angell – Although I was disappointed in the low energy he mustered for his 2004 wrap-up
2. Peter Gammons – He understands - yet maintains his integrity
3. Stephen King – Read his New Yorker piece on the little league world series, circa 1990
4. David Halberstam – BTW: ’49 was the definitive Sox-Yanks pennant race – there was much more color - not ’78 or anything from the Mo Vaughn era
5. (tie) Leigh Montville, Robert Creamer

Idiot baseball writers:

1. Dan Shaughnessy - He's an idiot.


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