Archive for Things That Contain Multitudes

Developing: Emotions Regarding Matt Shoemaker

Shoemaker 1 Slow

The present author is known in some (very small) circles as the sort of person who takes pleasure, first, in identifying and then, second, celebrating with undue enthusiasm the virtues of marginalized but promising talents.

In recent years, there have been peans written to such personages as Colby Lewis and Charlie Blackmon and, most recently, entirely laconic — and also now very successful — Cleveland right-hander Corey Kluber.

I am aware that the cultivation of these infatuations might seem affected. Indeed, there does appear to be a some notable qualities shared by the above-named baseballers, insofar as they all (a) are older than a player ought to be before demonstrating major-league success but also (b) produced promising sabermetric-type numbers before their actual, real success and also (c) possess a given name that begins with the letter C.

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Brian McCann Glimpses the Unthinkable, Part II

In base-ball circles, Yankees backstop Brian McCann is known as being a man of substantial left-handed pop, superb defensive chops and a polo-ist’s sense of propriety. He is also — as we have previously explored in this very electric newspaper — prone to strobe-lit glimpses of the yawning void that lies beyond.

Know that it — and “it” is the unnameable thing that harrows Mr. McCann down to his primordial essence — has happened again …

In the Name of All That Is Holy, No

Brian McCann knows what awaits us all. Such burdens are enough to buckle a thousand Frodos.


Briefly Considered: The Very Gruesome Laughter of Ray Liotta

After having recently consumed American film The Wolf of Wall Street — and with a view towards avoiding as long as possible anything resembling self-reflection, with all of its dire consequences — the author and his wife endeavored, even more recently, to revisit select titles from the Martin Scorsese corpus.

Of the films themselves, the author has little to say here. A relief for everyone, that. On a particular point of interest, however, there’s some cause to dwell momentarily, it would appear.

Crucial to this brief meditation is a passing familiarity with the contents of the video embedded below (which contents is full of explicit language, it should be noted).

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There’s a Ballpark on Fire, It Would Appear

Fire 3

According to internet reports and also grainy daguerreotypes like the one embedded here, it would appear as though Fifth Third Ballpark — on the outskirts of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and home to Tigers Midwest League affiliate, the West Michigan Whitecaps — is currently, or has been recently, on fire.

It’s not entirely clear what the proper course of action ought to be for the average citizen. Any demonstration of concern is, at some level, disingenuous — an attempt, like all reactions to news from afar, to participate in a drama that belongs to another community. On the other hand, this is presumably an event that will negatively impact at least one person’s life — and, for that reason, a development that naturally appeals to the human capacity for empathy.

What we know, at the very least, is that a ballpark is on fire. Or has been recently, at least.

Image stolen entirely from Twitter account of John Gonzalez.


Raising a Cup of Kindness

toast

Because now is an agreed-upon time to do such things, and because there is very little baseball to discuss as we hang new calendars, this seems like a good time to thank all of you fair NotGraphs readers for your continued support.

Nearly anyone can create a web site these days, making jokes and poems and heartfelt observations to an absent audience. It takes a community of writers and readers to make something like this possible. It’s a place for jabs and hastily-crafted Photoshops, yes, but it’s so much more. It’s a place for Hopeless Joe, for Dubuque’s and Baumann’s ventures into the sports ephemera, and dumb reviews about dumb TV shows that are kind of about baseball. It’s a place for philosophy and prose — parody and pontification. It’s a place that allows Dayn Perry to post what seems like annotated opium dreams, but what are actually perfectly-crafted imagination exercises that are so well done I get mad every time I read one, because I know I’ll never be at that level.

But our fine writers are just part of the story. There’s a popular Internet chunk of groupthink that advises people to not read the comments of basically any web page. And certainly, on a CNN or an SB Nation or certainly a Yahoo! News, these sections are best left avoided. They are often full of vitriol and ignorance and self-hate pointed outward. The NotGraphs comments are, in comparison, a delight. It’s a gentle mix of back patting and attempted one-upping, but it’s done in a way that’s neither brown-nosing nor disingenuous. There’s also a shared experience of “getting it,” of messages that hit their mark and massage the part of our brains that don’t get massaged that much — especially when dealing with sports.  It’s obvious that the content here is reaching its intended audience, and that the audience is happy to find what they’ve stumbled across.

NotGraphs was my first “real” writing gig. I’ve found my way onto other avenues, both on the mother site and on upcoming ventures, but I will never forget my roots, to use an already-overused phrase. I plan to write for NotGraphs for as long as they’ll have me, and I hope you continue to come back to participate in our truly-unique section of the World’s Wide Web. Here’s to goofiness and thoughtfulness and the way our site tends to blur the lines between. Here’s to a happy 2014 for all of us.

NotGraphs Forever.


The Hero of Cherryfield, Maine

Yesterday, as I was waiting for my daughter to start crying again, I read a few pages from a little gem of a book. Its title: The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book, published in 1973. After an autobiographical introduction, the text is a proto-NotGraphs series of vignettes about various players, stars and nobodies, accompanied by full-color copies of their 1950s Topps cards. It provides a little flavor to all those names that appear in spreadsheets from time to time.

Carlton WilleyCarlton Willey is one such man. A highly-touted prospect, he emerged from Truman’s War to lead the NL in shutouts in his rookie season. That was the extent of his black ink.

Carlton Willey was born in Cherryfield, Maine, the self-described Blueberry Capital of the World. One of the authors of the book, describing his annual trips through the town on vacation to Canada, describes it as “inhabited exclusively by lobster fishermen and grizzly bears.” But the image that sticks out is of a banner strung across the only street in town, written in faded red ink on white muslin. The words: “WELCOME TO CHERRYFIELD, MAINE, HOME OF MAJOR LEAGUE PITCHER CARLTON WILLEY.”

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Current Event: Nick Swisher Sounds His Barbaric Yawp

Swish Photo
Nick Swisher is not a bit tamed, Nick Swisher too is untranslatable.

While everyone, even illiterate people, certainly should read American and dead poet Walt Whitman’s master opus Song of Myself, it’s also the case that the idle moment often eludes us in these tough times: there are bills to pay and mouths to feed and season finales to watch and season finales upon which to comment via social media.

Nick Swisher, a self-described “man of the people” (probably), has done those same people what’s known in Swisher’s parlance (probably) as a “fucking solid” in this particular case, and condensed the spirit of Whitman’s work into one enduring and masculine pose — i.e. the pose captured in the image above.

“What do we want?” Nick Swisher seems to be asking.

“Multitudes,” he wants you to answer, probably.

“When do we want it?” Nick Swisher has now asked this time.

“Perpetually,” he’d like you to respond.


Pedro and Scene

A brief episode observed by the author this afternoon, during the pre-game hours at Fenway Park.

Bamino Second
Artwork by the actual Pedro Martinez himself, courtesy Nick Taveras.

Generationally talented and now retired right-hander Pedro Martinez, in town for a local fundraising event, is giving an interview to an elderly reporter in the loge boxes on Fenway Park’s first-base side.

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Seven Similes Regarding Sonny Gray’s Curveball

Gray Rasmus CU SS K

In the absence of video evidence like that above, the reader might find some difficulty in articulating to another party the experience of young Oakland right-hander Sonny Gray‘s excellent curveball, a pitch that appears to have been worth more than five runs above average so far per every hundred thrown.

What follows are seven similes that might at least begin to approximate the experience of same.

1. It’s like having an epiphany at Caldor’s.

2. It’s like a meadowlark that’s real aggressive in business.

3. It’s like Werner Herzog’s description of conquest, probably.

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Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan Is a Mets Fan

I set up an interview with Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo to figure out how much of a Mets fan he was. If you know the story of the band’s name, you know that there’s a link to the team. And there are a few other clues that link the band to the hapless Mets. But every fan has a different level of engagement with the sport.

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