Convergences

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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

Recent baseball writing

Dave

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

 

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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

The Familiarity of Stranger Things

Maybe you had some variety of wild place – your own Hawkins, Indiana, the wild places bordering your neighborhood which encouraged those wild places within you, before you came to any awareness about energy policy, or rendition, or black sites; before you understood that the worst of the world’s problems came not from without human agency, but from deep within it. I certainly did. The joy of Stranger Things springs in great measure from its ability to reconnect us with those places. It’s a meditation on power – the loss of it, the restoration of it – which never for a moment feels didactic or in any way concerned with message, but rather like a parable from within the temporal borders of our own lives. The precarity of modern life has led to a sense of unease and fragility. In Hawkins, Indiana, as in the places of our youth, before the age of smartphones, help could be very far away indeed, but we got by, in some cases with some help from benevolent authority figures, like Chief Hopper, but more often with the help of the freaks and outsiders we called our peers. The ability to navigate danger depended not on how reliable your 4G signal was, but how reliable your friends.

“The familiarity of Stranger Things,” on the late-Cold War malaise woven into the show’s DNA, for sinkhole‘s essay roundup of 2017’s significant pop cultural moments and things

A Little Larceny for Sinkhole Magazine

The American culture industry was shipping out products like White Christmas with reliable regularity— trifles made not without some care and craft, but generally with little eye toward longevity, and certainly no expectation that they become time capsules of the era’s subcutaneous anxiety. But some, including White Christmas, were dipped in the waters of dread, and they still bear the mark.

On White Christmas and the Great America that never was, for Sinkhole Magazine

Timelines

Ubaldo Jiminez is pitching—and Zach Britton is not—and his first pitch to Encarnacion meets wood and then rises up through the cool air inside the open-roofed stadium and lands in the second deck. Encarnacion stands with his arms above his head and drops his bat. I stand with my arms above my head. “Oh my God,” I say. “Oh my God.” “Did they do it?” asks my wife, who is upstairs unpacking. “Oh my God,” I say again. The SkyDome erupts in jubilation and disbelief. The TV broadcast will end with that buzz still apparent, the emotional currency of that place plain and enticing to us at home. It is unlikely that a team’s fans should ever know even one of these moments, but we have counted four. In the morning I will show the children the replay of Encarnacion’s home run over breakfast. I will watch it myself a dozen more times.

“Timelines,” for Eephus, about Encarnacion’s Wild Card Game-winning home run, as well as Roberto Alomar, Joe Carter, José Bautista, memory, family, the passage of time, and a bunch of other stuff

Le baseball

We wander into the guts of the stadium for another beer or a bathroom break and see where they have hung on the walls images of old teams who played here, including the Athletics, the Alouettes, and the Braves, members of the Provincial League and, later, farmhands for Boston and Milwaukee. Warren Spahn pitched in this very ballpark. Hank Aaron hit a home run here. They modeled this park’s design on Trois-Rivières’ home field, built a year earlier. The Expos installed an affiliate in the ’70s, called les Carnavals, and later, the Metros. Gary Carter and Andre Dawson took their hacks. Though unique, Québecois baseball is nothing new. It goes back decades, or a century, or more.

— “Le baseball,” on les Capitales de Québec of the Can-Am League, for Eephus