At the end of East 45th Street, Greta Thunberg stood before world leaders at the UN General Assembly, and said, “You are failing us.” Up in the Bronx, the Yankees had just won their 102nd game of the season and enjoyed a nine-game cushion over the Rays.
I have a new essay, “Love in the time of,” in the upcoming issue of Turnstyle: The SABR Journal of Baseball Arts. If you’re a baseball fan and you’re not already a member, consider joining SABR for access to this and dozens of other publications.
The next night the Astros walloped Baltimore 23-2, with Álvarez homering three times, including a grand slam, for a total of seven RBI. But the Yordan Álvarez of Friday night’s third inning strikeout is of greater interest to me. He stands at the nexus of innumerable convergences: strains of information, history, prognosis and apology, wayward currents pinched to a single point in space. He’s an individual upright but unguarded, caught in 1/100th of a second and preserved against a background, that great brick facade vivid but blurred, which suggests that he is stalked by uncertainties. The thick, hazy air of a dog day’s evening makes time’s immateriality evident. Much has come unmoored.
— “Convergences,” for SABR’s Baseball Cards Blog
Central among my beliefs is that the 1987 Topps set is the finest collection of baseball cards ever produced. There are no hard facts to support this claim, only my personal zealotry, and though I understand that my love is highly subjective, and the product of timing and circumstance as much as it is of accomplishment in design, I’m unshakable: this is the set, this is the year.
— “Simulacra,” for SABR’s Baseball Cards Blog
For all its prideful stubbornness, baseball has evolved, but in the virtual stream it becomes an ahistorical soup, the ’77 Yankees rubbing up against the 2001 Mariners and the ’68 Cardinals. We Are Family and the Big Red Machine and the Cardiac Kids and the Amazin’s and Nos Amours. Exhibitions, early-season snoozers, All-Star Games, World Series nail-biters. In YouTube’s chronological blender, Ken Griffey Jr. is always chugging around third on Edgar’s double to beat the Yankees, Mark Fidrych is always a goofy, charismatic rookie phenom on the rise, and Ichiro is always delivering a long-distance precision strike to nab Terrence Long at third. Picture quality careens from black-and-white abstraction to grainy videotape—but it’s all baseball, and at this moment that’s all I need it to be.
— “A Means of Coping,” for The Hardball Times
This persistent little book has just entered a new printing — its fifth — the first to feature any editorial changes. Over at the Invisiblog I wrote about that small change, and why it felt necessary to do now.
The Seattle Mariners’ history is one long tale of woe studded with infrequently dazzling displays of capability, with all of it adding up to exactly zero championships. I say this as someone who has counted several Mariners as his favorite players. There’s no logic to this, just as there’s no relief from the routine cruelties of time and money. It just is.
— “Every Fifth Day,” the last entry in the season-long The Bottom of the Order series, for Hobart
The cherry and strawberry seasons have passed; the apples are reddening. Only a few games remain. A Pit Spitter lays down a bunt, and the runner on third crashes in: a perfect suicide squeeze.
— “Snap, Go, Fling,” for Hobart
The thing I can’t wrap my head around, when it comes to the 2003 Detroit Tigers, is what it must have been like to show up to work every day. What must it have taken, as the losses mounted – up to and including the 119th, the most defeats ever amassed by an American League team, and tied with the ’62 Mets for the most losses in major league history – to rouse oneself for the excruciating daily repetition of a very public abasement?
— “Your 2003 Detroit Tigers,” for Hobart
Horace Guy Womack was in the employ of four different Major League teams across five seasons, a serviceable bullpen righty who lost as many games as he won, but managed to keep his lifetime ERA a shade below three. There’d be no reason to know his name, probably, if he didn’t have such a great one: he went by Dooley, for reasons which are less than clear at this remove.
— “Dooley Womack,” for Hobart
I think about Pedro Guerrero sometimes. More than is normal, or healthy, I’d guess.
— “Pedro Guerrero,” for Hobart
Gaylord Perry toiled for twenty-two seasons in the majors, and the look on his face suggests it was hard toil indeed. Wind worn, exasperated, he mutely submits to yet another examination of his cap, his head, his uniform, for a dab of Vaseline, a smear of K-Y. It might or might not have been there – Perry’s success rested on the twin pillars of a doctored ball’s unpredictability, and the thought, instilled in the head of each batter he faced, that the ball might be materially abetted in its tortuous journey from mound to plate.
— “A Photograph of Gaylord Perry Being Investigated for Foreign Substances,” for Hobart