We here in Ontario are about to go into another lockdown, and the air outside my window is adance with snow flurries, but it’s Opening Day, damn it, and so we rejoice and find gladness in the promise of a new season. Tomorrow, April 2, is the official publication date of The Only Way Is the Steady Way, so chosen because it’s also the twentieth anniversary of Ichiro’s MLB debut. It’s also the fifth anniversary of the publication of The Utility of Boredom. That one was a coincidence, but it’s still worth noting. Regarding the former, there have been some developments—articles, appearances, etc.—that I’ll endeavour to round up here:
You do this for long enough, and you begin to crave originality like a desert wanderer craves cool clear water. Andrew Forbes’s essays are cool and clear and may well slake the thirst of any thinking baseball fan.
—Rob Neyer, author of Power Ball: Anatomy of a Modern Baseball Game
The Only Way Is the Steady Way: Essays on Baseball, Ichiro, and How We Watch the Game will be available April 2 from Invisible Publishing, but you can pre-order it now.
At the end of East 45thStreet, 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 102ndgame 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.
The Mattawa River Writers Festival is now an online affair. I’ll be speaking, reading, and holding a Q and A via Zoom beginning at 2:30 PM Eastern on April 22nd. Register here. All MWRF events are now free, but donations are accepted and appreciated, as this is the Canadian Ecology Centre’s big annual fundraiser. Hope you’ll join me and witness my fumbling attempts to master the technology. It’s a great lineup; I’d suggest making a day of it, if you’re free.
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.
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.
If you’re in self-isolation and you’ve already burned through your pile of books, skip over to Invisible Publishing to grab some ebooks. The best part? Pay whatever you choose, AND one hundred percent of proceeds go to the authors. (I guess that’s two parts.) So you can scoop up my books, but also dozens of other staggeringly wonderful titles from writers like Michelle Winters, Seyward Goodhand, Tyler Hellard, HB Hogan… Fiction, poetry, nonfiction. Fill your phone or laptop or tablet or e-reader (does anyone still use those?), make your isolation more enjoyable, support independent Canadian publishing, and toss some money at Canadian authors. Everybody wins!
UPDATE (3/18/2020): The Matawa River Writers Festival has been postponed in light of the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. Please watch this space or the festival website for announcements regarding what form the rescheduled event will take. Stay safe, everyone! Stay home!
I’ll be speaking at the Canadian Ecology Centre in Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park in April as part of the Mattawa River Writers Festival. Really looking forward to this one. Registration is now open for this amazing weekend, and it would be great to see you there.