Now that the baseball season has ended (sigh), it’s maybe time to let the world in on a little secret: the series of baseball-themed blog posts I wrote at the Invisible Publishing site were, in fact, an elaborate publicity stunt to promote The Utility of Boredom: Baseball Essays (available in April!). Diabolical, huh?
If you missed the last several entries, let’s get you caught up:
Baseball’s timeline is measured in seconds and decades; deep troughs of pain interspersed with dazzling moments of excitement. But if Game 5 of the ALDS didn’t fill you with a desire to risk that pain for the potential rewards this game offers, I don’t know what to tell you. You have to risk something to get something. The cards are on the table and the ante is your heart. The feelings you experienced last night–both when it looked as though things were hopeless for the Blue Jays, and when you lost your voice screaming as Bautista rounded the bases–were baseball’s reminder that things needn’t be believable to be true.
Meaningful Games: The Results Are In (October 20):
But without getting too rosy about things, you could sense in the Dome’s crowds, and in the blue-clad folks you’d see all over the country, something new, or something as familiar as nostalgia; positivity, or maybe just weariness with all that negativity, which is pretty much the same thing. Belief in the Jays spread across the nation like a populist movement. Give us change, folks said. And give us a World Series, too.
We signed up for something over which we can exert no control; for faint possibilities and the near certainty of disappointment. Sometimes the reward is triumph. Sometimes it’s only that experience of hope. Sometimes it’s levity, as when, trailing last night by a hundred runs, Jays manager John Gibbons sent infielder Cliff Pennington out to pitch an inning in order to save his bullpen arms for another day. This, if you’re just joining us, happens sometimes, and it’s always silly and strange and charmingly amusing. It’d be more amusing, of course, if it didn’t suggest your team was losing, but when it’s all you’ve got, you take it. There’s a warm humanity to it, something like make-believe, people switching roles, pantomiming their peers, or dusting off skills they haven’t exercised since Little League. In the end, though, it usually ends up affirming why pitchers do what they do, and why position players do something else.
Meaningful Games: Hotline Bling (October 23):
The Blue Jays feel as homey and trusted and safe to me as Jerry Howarth’s voice on my car radio as I drive the 401 between Kingston and Port Hope, or wend through cottage country, or take County Road 23 up through Buckhorn. “The Blue Jays are in flight,” he’ll say when they score their first run, or “And there she goes!” when somebody hits one out, just as he’s been saying it on every radio and in every car I’ve owned for years and years and years. How can that experience—so familiar to me, so seemingly mine—jive with the experience of the untold millions out there who’re also familiar with the team, to whatever degree? This is some real epistemological sidetracking, I know. But how can they be so many things at once? How can Toronto be so many places at once? And why can’t I get “Hotline Bling” out of my head?
Meaningful Games: The End of Something (October 27):
One minute it was all happening, and the next, well. It was quick. Then the realization that the season is over and it will soon be November—for my money the dreariest spot on the calendar. It’ll be months before we once again see Kevin Pillar leave earth in pursuit of a fly ball, or Josh Donaldson doing something astonishing, or Jose Bautista furiously swatting a fastball left out over the plate. The season is long and overfull, but then it is gone and we’re bereft.
Meaningful Games: Wait Till Next Year (November 2):
The Mets got steamrolled by a better team. Not that that salves the burn one bit. Likewise, as a Jays fan, maybe I ought to take some comfort in knowing what the Royals were made of; maybe there’s less shame in losing to the clear champs. Maybe.