There’s a persistent tug in me toward baseball, and the idea of how it should be played. I want to call out to my boys, “Stand there!” “Run that way!” “Catch the ball!” I do allow myself one outburst, when Cormac stands on first base with his glove on his right hand. “Cormac!” I call, “the glove goes on the hand you don’t throw with!” He waves and smiles and switches hands, though it won’t matter when the ball next comes his way; it’ll sail by, unbothered, just the same.
The eternal furnace churns away. Its off-shootings and spurts have the power to annihilate; we’re at the mercy of its whims, subject to whichever seemingly random processes determine its cycles and emissions. The Knicks, for their part, are a series of bad decisions made by self-aggrandizing or inadequately prepared men. It’s possible to watch footage of either. League Pass will cost you $200. NASA’s made its Ultra-HD images of the sun free on Youtube, although at least with League Pass you can also watch the Warriors.
— “Galactic Heat Check: NASA’s “Thermonuclear Art” and the 2015 New York Knicks,” for The Classical
But then this epoch-opening Cavs win, cruising downhill on time’s longboard, hit a pebble and went sprawling. The ball bounced this way and that, and we were all flying through the air towards an uncertain conclusion and suddenly Quincy Acy was grabbing boards for the Knicks, who were now sharing the ball, moving it high and low, sharing the ball very well in fact. New York took a lead. They were down by two at the half, and preparations had begun for a brief parade celebrating one of what promised to be one of the season’s better moral victories, and one of a larger number of losses. This sort of preparation seemed the sensible thing.
— “A Lot of Basketball Left,” on the Knicks ruining LeBron’s homecoming, for The Classical
When I say that games from twenty-five or twenty-nine years ago seem somehow better to me — simpler, or cleaner, or more exciting, or whatever — I am, in effect, listening to Springsteen. I’m conjuring a moment Before The Fall, a time predating life’s hinge, the point where The Past drops off into The Present and things cease making sense, or exist in stubbornly unresolved form. They are yet changeable, and mutability can make difficult a lazy comfort of the sort offered by nostalgia. That’s why the best heroes are dead ones.
— “Like They Used To,” on the Kansas City Royals, and Bruce Springsteen, and Ottawa, and nostalgia, and other things, for The Classical
You certainly do not need to hear another white male’s perspective on the general awfulness of things — on Ray Rice or Greg Hardy or Jonathan Dwyer or the other unpunished predators populating various highlight reels — that launches from the premise “I have a daughter, so…” But I do have a daughter. She will grow up, and she will venture onto the internet, and she will find herself walking alone at night, and all of those things terrify me, because they contain added dangers for her simply because she was born female. It is hard to know what to tell her about this, or how anything I might tell her could help.
— “Daughters and Ballgames,” for The Classical
We put our passions on a game that stretches back nearly a century and a half, which leaves so many seasons that have ended in frustration for all those forgotten teams, their fans left dazed and disappointed. But they have all come back. They have always come back. Scant months later those players congregated again and suited up and began once more the process of training and playing and losing and winning. Spring always comes.
— “162,” on the end of the season for most teams, over at The Classical
You’re here for baseball — because baseball is love and you’d follow it anywhere — but also just to be in some new place, somewhere removed from life as you so precisely know it. The idea is to get a bit lost, turned around, to temporarily take leave of your bearings.
And it is working, as a shiver runs up the length of your body, starts in your toes and traces a line beneath your skin all the way to your scalp. The night’s getting cool. Put on a sweater and wrap a blanket around your legs; done up like that you are so happy that you don’t know what to do with your arms. You flail a bit, wrap them around yourself, throw them over the back of the bench, fold them on your knees. It is important to remember that it does not matter what you do with your arms.
Really, though, what you want to do is cast your arms wide and embrace the game in front of you. The field and the lights, rich green grass, players in their uniforms made up of elements borrowed without permission from major league teams, the pop songs that play on the tinny, overmatched conical loudspeaker dangling from the roof of the grandstand. All of that: hug it. You want to gather it all in your arms and claim it and never let anyone spoil it. You want to protect it, as it has protected you. This is a reasonable thing to want, but also it’s impossible.
— “The Grandstand,” over at The Classical
They may have known success, but they learned not to trust it, because failure haunts their kind. The precariousness of their chosen discipline shines a light back on our own lives: no matter how good things look, we’re all just hanging on by a thread. No matter how in command, no matter how good the stuff, the truth is that we are on defense the entire time, and we will eventually be reminded as much.
— “Get Me Over,” on pitchers and the people who love them, for The Classical