On this past Monday afternoon, within twenty-two seconds of each other, Robert J. Baumann and I submitted to this weblog some thoughts regarding Mike Trout. We did not coordinate; we did not synchronize; nor have I ever enjoyed the slightest contact with Mr. Baumann. A trivial coincidence, you may say. After all, Trout has hooked, if you’ll pardon the wordplay, our collective consciousness like no other. Perhaps the truly remarkable thing is that a full twenty-two seconds could pass without two baseball writers uncontrollably ejaculating their thoughts on Trout. I congratulate my colleagues on their continence. I also contrive to concoct as much consonance as one composition can conceivably contain.
But this is not the first time Mr. Baumann and I have found ourselves in a state of creative entanglement. Some two weeks ago, again within minutes of one another, he and I both introduced new and useful NotGraphs metrics. Later, we both affectionately addressed the Baltimore Orioles. I found all of this discomfiting at first, as though Mr. Baumann were a tiny mustachioed homunculus writing from inside my brain. But after laying eyes on the photograph that he posted on Tuesday, I immediately understood what has been going on. No paranormal force need be invoked here. In fact, it is hardly surprising that Mr. Baumann and I should operate in parallel. We are merely two casts from the same mold, two fleshly instantiations of a universal form: that of the Model Baseball Observer. As evidence of this, and of the heritability of Model Baseball Observership, I submit the above photo of myself, my son, and my father at a minor league game.
Note on each Observer, although you can hardly fail to do so, the slightly but resolutely upturned countenance; the contained, but not dispassionate, set of the jaw; the alertness of the eyes; the subtle furrow of the brow, signifying concern without unease. Note that it is impossible to speculate, from the attitudes of the Observers, on the state of the ballgame. The Braves could be eight runs down in the third, or a run up in the ninth. Or the game might not even have started, and the crowd — that is, the greater, less Model portion thereof — might be engaged in the “YMCA” dance, as the posture of the man two rows down seems to suggest. Make no mistake: the Model Observer is not unmoved by such things. Rather, he — or she — simply denies them an unearned power. He acknowledges and honors the fanaticism within, but renounces its fruits. She sets herself amidst the currents of the ballgame, and opens herself to them all, but is swept away by none.
Though he was not visible in the first photograph, in a second one the hallmarks of Model Observership are readily apparent on my grandfather, as they have been, no doubt, since the days of Ruth:
Through the generations, we Model Observers have stood as dauntless sentinels on the ramparts of sport, exalting the game with our devotion as we guard it with unclouded vision. We are equipped now with new weapons, fortified by new mathematical armature. But these appurtenances mean nothing without the commitment that burns at our core. May it burn, wherever there is baseball, forever.
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