All the New Thinking Is about Loss
And when people wonder why baseball matters to me so, it's for reasons like this, that it seems not just a beautiful game with feats of physical prowess a shlub like me can barely dream of thinking of doing, but also a way into the world that seems innocent but is anything but.
Of course I'm lying, pretending I'd never figure out life without baseball. (I probably won't ever figure it out anyway.) This was supposed to be a simple entry, at least earlier in the day when I imagined it, about straightforward things, like Phillie manager Charlie Manuel saying about Brett Myers, "What happened between [Hamels and Myers], they're friends and that was more 'Brett being Brett.' He likes to throw a jab at you. People hear that sometimes, they don't know how to take it," about a guy who was once charged with beating his wife. We love ourselves some brutish athletes, just as long as they don't do steroids. That might fuck up the children.
And about this, in the same LA Times article we learn that "Alex Rodriguez, hitting .360, has 18 RBIs in this postseason, one short of the record shared by David Ortiz, Scott Spiezio and Sandy Alomar Jr." Despite this news, there are over 600,000 Google hits for A-Rod not clutch, since he had such a terrible streak in the postseason for a bit and people want to hate him as he does seem sort of a, well, to get high school about it, a douche. (And it's not just because I got caught up on Glee episodes tonight that I go to high school for a reference point, but that I think most of us, athletes and non, form our notions about the sporting life then and never get beyond them.) We like bending the evidence to figure what we so assuredly already know--and a jerk like A-Rod mustn't have any character, and therefore, well, point to that small sample size that says just that. But note well the other postseason RBI record holders--Mr. Clutch himself, one of the best-loved men in baseball Big Papi (why are A-Rod and Manny so reviled as dopers, but Ortiz seems to get it easy?), but then two mostly nobodies, Scott "Ridiculous Goatee" Spiezio and Sandy Alomar Jr. How much of RBIing is the luck of being in the right place at the right time? How much of life is luck?
Baseball, at least for this year, won't tell. But with any luck spring will bring some new hope, but that's spring's job, after all. We've all got jobs to do, if only we could hear them call, something distinct like an ump shouting safe.