Sunday, April 01, 2007

It Happens Every Spring

While cleaning thinking about cleaning out my closets this afternoon, I was listening to my favorite Sunday afternoon radio program, hosted by the erudite and mellifluous-voiced Jonathan Schwartz. Besides being passionate about music of all genres (he's a walking encyclopedia of every note ever sung by the Chairman of the Board), and the voice of the once avant garde WNEW-FM radio station legendary in our youth, he's a lifelong baseball fan! And yes, as the Gods of Payback would have it, he happens to be a die-hard Red Sox fan, and no, I don't hold that against him, either.

It was of little surprise then--given the 2007 Opening Day schedule and all--that he chose to devote most of today's program to all things baseball from play-by-plays of long ago to Bob Dylan's ode to "Catfish," to a German version of "Take Me Out to The Baseball Game"--Gute Himmel-- followed up with a hilarious bit by the inimitable Bob Newhart pretending to be Abner Doubleday pitching his "invention" to a game manufacturer. I went searching for the audio of "Nobody Will Ever Play Baseball" to post but only found a transcript. Anyone familiar with Newhart's splendid timing wiill surely appreciate that a cut and paste version of one of his skits could never ever capture his deliciously droll delivery. Give yourself a treat and buy the CD.

So, in honor of baseball, and its loyal and hopeful fans, I'm including instead a favorite passage of mine from "A Day of Light and Shadows," by the very same Jonathan Schwartz, a jewel of a book about the now classic--and fateful--1978 playoff game between the Red Sox and Yankees (Destiny 5, Red Sox 4), and a heartfelt love letter to the game itself.

One last thing I think you should know, or at least consider.
Baseball is a game without a clock, an event as short as fifty-one minutes, or as long as eight hours. Its moments of stillness are contemplative for all who are in it, around it. It is wonderfully divided into nine episodes, with either sixteen or seventeen intervals for gossip, the purchase of meat and beer, the jostle and rumble of strangers.

The schedule itself is novelistic, each season a grand Dickensian work, with sad little moments of Didion or Cheever tucked away in the flow of events. The game is influenced by three seasons of the calendar, whose roles we have come to recognize as intrinsic and implicative. The pages of its book are published daily, the facts of its matter packaged starkly alone in a box score as essentially American as a New Hampshire primary.

That I was attracted to something as lovely when I was seven or eight was no childhood epiphany. Baseball is obviously magical, a game played in the mind as much as on the field. It is an intimate puzzle, rolling around the brain, in class, on a plane, in the theater, and now again. while making love. It will never age and never cease. The team that represents you, your choice at an early age, will, guided by your honor, remain a lifelong partner. It is you, you are it, in emotional business together. There is no other way.
So, then.
No regret

Perfect. Let's play ball.
(Posted by Portia)


spd rdr said...

Well, well, well...
My favorite MFY fan beat me to the punch this spring. Congratulations, Portia, and everyone else who managed to survive through the cold bleak months of no baseball, only to be rewarded with Spring and hope eternal once more.

I'm ready. None down, 162 to go before the Red Sox sweep the playoffs on their way to the World Championship!

Bring it on!

camojack said...

It Happens Every Spring

What does...Global Warming?