Saturday, April 10, 2010

Games 4 and 5: The Bard in Kansas City and All's Well That Ends Well

In game 4 of the 2010 baseball season, the Red Sox lost to the Royales with Cheese Friday night. After handing a slim 3-2 lead to the seemingly impregnable bullpen forces, Tim Wakefield watched them prove quite pregnable, coughing up said lead when Daniel Bard surrendered a 2 run single in the bottom of the 8th inning. Saturday night found the Red Sox turning the beat around, hammering the Royals bullpen for 6 runs over innings 7-9 in an 8-3 win.

Too tired for haiku, so we'll just have to leave it there.

My letter to Golf Digest magazine

My inquiry boils down to a single sentence: Why do you continue to employ the writer Dan Jenkins?

In my review of Jenkins at the Majors, I detailed his tasteless, racist humor at the expense of golfer TC Chen during a piece about the 1985 US Open.

Today, a quarter of a century later, Jenkins wrote the following: "Y.E. Yang is only three shots off the lead. I think we got takeout from him last night."

Writing old tropes about people of Asian descent was racist in 1985. If anything, it is worse now. It is unacceptable in polite society for anyone, of any age, to voice such sentiments in 2010. The fact that you, a publication which I thought had class and dignity, support and employ such a person is distressing.

Please tell your many readers that you do not support or condone racist speech on the part of any of your writers.


Michael Webb

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Game Three: The Grandy Man Could

The Yankees beat the Red Sox tonight, 3-1 in 10 innings, when Curtis Granderson hit a home run off of Jonathan Papelbon to bust open a 1-1 tie after 9.

In Haiku:

Sox-Yanks? Extra? Of course!
Tied at 1, Paps gives up poke.
Now off to KC.

Some Things Never Change

Velvet Verbosity's One Hundred Word Challenge still lives on, now residing here, at least until VV gets her groove back.

This week's challenge is "behavior", and here's my pebble into the pond.

It's called "Some Things Never Change", and it is lovingly dedicated to @lapiswitch.

“Don't tell me how much it matters, show me!”

Her face was contorted, reddening with emotion and a hint of fear. I looked at her, her perfect, small, bare knees pressed tightly together.

I couldn't think of something to say.

“I know you're busy. I get it. I understand. But if we can't spend any time together, I just don't see...I don't see...I don't see the point in there being an us.”

She opened the door, closed it firmly, and walked away. I watched her walk. I couldn't change, and she couldn't change, and, then, suddenly, we weren't.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Game Two: Pretty Tied Up

After Sunday's rumble in the jungle, the Red Sox and Yankees tangled again today at Fenway. Tied after 7, New York got single runs in the 8th and 9th to win 6-4. Both teams now stand at 1-1 before the series finale tomorrow.

In haiku form:

Four hours nightly? Bah!
Sleep for the weak-Yanks score late.
Sink Sox-Mo saves. Ulp.

Red Sox Game One: A Day At The Races

Two very intriguing sporting events transpired in the last 48 hours-the Red Sox began their season with a back and forth, herky jerky, 3 and 3/4 hour marathon ballgame/morality play at a unseasonably warm Fenway Park.

Back to haiku:

Opening Day! Lights!
Sounds! Bombers fall, nine-seven.
Passed ball scores winner.


Last night, Duke won the men's basketball national championship with a tremendously exciting 61-59 win over the Bulldogs of Butler University. The heavily favored Blue Devils had all they can handle from the outmanned, outgunned Bulldogs, and Butler wound up with two shots in the last five seconds to take the lead, but both shots did not fall. A tremendous game, where each basket was painfully wrenched from the other team. Very physical defense, combined with intelligent play and tons and tons of heart. Very entertaining, and very close to what basketball is supposed to be.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Better Get Out The Flags And Fix A Parade

Yeah, I'm back. What of it?

Whatever mental funk seems to have afflicted me lately seems to have burned off like so much early morning fog. It's not gone, but it has receded far enough for me to see the shoreline, or at least given me enough confidence to stop caring about my own relevance.

It's baseball season, y'all. From now until the beginning of October, it counts. Well, except the Hall of Fame Game. And the All Star Game, too. Shut up.

A few bon mots from my personal Bard of Hardball, Roger Angell:

"Baseball saves me every time-not the news of it, perhaps, so much as its elegant and arduous complexity, its layered substrata of nuance and lesson and accumulated experience, which are the true substance of these sleepy, overfamiliar practice rituals, and which, if we know how and where to look for them, can later be seen to tip the scales of the closest, most watched games of the summer. Almost everything in baseball looks easy and evident, but really learning the game, it turns out, can take a lifetime, even if you keep notes."

More apropos than that, from the introduction to the collection I am currently reading, written by novelist Richard Ford:

" 'Sports were different in my youth,' he [Angell] wrote in 1992. 'A series of events to look forward to and then to turn over in memory, rather than a huge, omnipresent industry with its own economics and politics and crushing public relations' [again, think stock market, think government]. Now, though, he goes on, 'we are wary of sentiment and obsessively knowing, and we feel obliged to put a spin of psychology or economic determinism or bored contempt on all clear-color memories [and] it is because most of American life, including baseball, no longer feels feasible.' "

That's the heart of what has been bothering me, personally and in general, and what continues to bother me, personally and in general. Things don't seem feasible-it doesn't seem possible to run a country as big as ours is and make sure that all the people within it have a shot at making a decent life for themselves. I am growing more and more pessimistic about the possibility that we're going to make it though all this.

Actor Andrew Koenig, of course, committed suicide, and there has been a more recent spate of news stories talking about teens and bullying, a couple of which resulted in suicides. And what is suicide other than the simple, emphatic statement that one cannot go on? Pessimism writ large. I can't help but feel that it is, on some level, a rational act-to leave a world that no longer gives you pleasure.

I have never believed in the notion, which I believe still holds in the mental health field, that the mere fact that you talk about or think of or even mention suicide immediately makes you suicidal by definition. I can't live like that-my mind has to consider any idea, however outlandish, and asset it on its own merits.

Comedian Doug Stanhope, in a phrase I have quoted before, notes that if you sit through half of a movie, and it's awful, what makes you think the second half is going to be any better? Similarly, in baseball, if you're 30-50 at the break, you're probably not going to go 60-12 the rest of the way. As Coach Bill Parcells used to say, you are what your record says you are. Your life is what it is. You have what you've got.

The opening of baseball season, even when surrounded by a world that seems increasingly run by lunatic charlatans, gives us a chance to look over the pleasing rows of 0-0 in the standings. Everybody's at zero. Everything is potential, and possible, and nothing is forbidden. Nobody's lost, and nobody's won. Last year is history, and this year, like a solid block of marble, has yet to be carved.

Even if life doesn't feel that way, for a moment, we can pretend it does.