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Relax Your Mind, Let Your Conscience Be Free
2005-11-03 07:22
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Emily and I were in bed last night and I was leafing through a picture book about Yankee History. At one point she asked, "Do you learn something new about baseball every day?" "Yeah, I suppose I do," I said. I tried to think what I had learned that day. I had just been studying a photograph of Joe DiMaggio's last home run, hit against the Giants in the Polo Grounds during the 1951 World Serious. The photograph, taken from behind home plate, gave me a different perspective of the Polo Grounds than I had ever experienced. I soaked in a new appreciation of a place I deeply desire to have actually visited.

Often, I'm not even aware of how much I'm learning, though of course I absorb new information constantly. But not only do most of us baseball nyerds learn something new about the game each day, we probably spend an inordinate amount of time daydreaming about it too. At least I know I do, especially as I'm drifting to sleep at night. Baseball is a year-round sport these days, still there are enough lulls in the off-season for us to indulge in our fantasies without the daily tension of wins and losses. This brings to mind one of my favorite Hot Stove passages:

There is a game of baseball that is not to be found in the schedules or the record books. It has no season, but it is best played in the winter, without the distraction of box scores and standings. This is the inner game, baseball in the mind, and there is no real fan who does not know it. It is a game of recollections, recapturings, and visions: Yet this is only the beginning, for baseball in the mind in not a mere yearning and returning. In time, this easy envisioning of restored players, winning hits, and famous rallies gives way to reconsiderations and reflections about the sport itself. By thinking about baseball like this, by playing it over and yet keeping it to ourselves, keeping it warm in a cold season, we begin to make discoveries. With luck, we may even penetrate some of its mysteries and learn once again how richly and variously the game can reward us.

Roger Angell, from "Baseball in the Mind"

Comments
2005-11-03 08:03:50
1.   debris
I never saw the Giants play at the Polo Grounds, but did see the Mets there (and even the football Titans) several times. My first trip to the Polo Grounds was for a Memorial Day doubleheader in 1962, the Dodgers first trip back to NY after bolting the city in 1957.

The highlight of the day, a Dodger sweep of a team that won 40 games, was seeing Maury Wills hit two home runs in the first game. The first was a pop fly down the right field line of Bob Moorhead. The second was a line drive over the shortstop's head that rolled to the wall in deep left center as Wills scampered the bases.

Those two home runs accounted for one third of his season total for 1962 and ten percent of his career total of 20. He stole no bases that day.

2005-11-03 09:19:43
2.   rilkefan
Alex, if you haven't read "The Rookie" from Adam Gopnik's memoir Paris to the Moon, you should look it up. Gopnik describes the long-running bedtime story he tells his son about the 1908 Giants. The son has never seen even a picture of the Polo Grounds since the family is living in Paris - he doesn't even understand the game - but the baseball lingo has power regardless. (That's what Gopnik thinks - I tend to think the son saw his father's enthusiasm and got caught up in the emotion.)
2005-11-03 09:26:41
3.   jdsarduy
Alex are we going to see A-Rod play celebrity poker against Ben Affleck on TV?
I figure A-Rod has a month before he starts his superman work outs he's so famous for and Ben is a little depressed over what's happened to his Sox lately and he can't get a job anyway.
So they both have some time to kill.
And speaking of depresstion, superman and killing, Ben Affleck next role will be in a movie playing George Reeves.
2005-11-03 09:38:49
4.   Dimelo
I heard a few good comments/jokes today.
People wondering....
Will ARod win the world series of poker before the baseball world series?
Will ARod get mad and slap the cards out of his opponents hand?

But my favorite...drum roll please!!
What do the White Sox and Bobby Brown have in common?

Ans: They both beat Houston 3 times in one week!

2005-11-03 09:47:56
5.   Alex Belth
The demensions of the Polo Grounds just amaze me. Plus the fact that the clubhouse was out in center field is just cool. Did anyone read "Underworld"?
2005-11-03 10:10:39
6.   Alex Belth
Dimelo, that's a groaner. Jose, I can't find it in me to talk about that Rodriguez story. But yeesh, A Rod and Ben Affleck in the same room together is one toxic coupling.
2005-11-03 10:15:44
7.   jedi
Another one of your good jokes, Dimelo...you think them up yourself?

Before I forget...

:::clap clap:::

2005-11-03 10:58:16
8.   Dimelo
I would never take credit for someone else's sophomoric humor. :-)
2005-11-03 11:49:21
9.   Dan M
I read "Underworld," but I have to admit that I've forgotten a lot of it (it's so long, there's a lot of book to forget). I can't even remember the three celebs who go to the game together are, although one's Toots Shor, right?
2005-11-03 12:23:18
10.   Murray
The other two celebrities are Jackie Gleason and J. Edgar Hoover. "Underworld" is the perfect complement to John Dos Passos's "U.S.A." trilogy. But "White Noise" is much funnier.
2005-11-03 12:33:41
11.   BobbyBaseBall
I also read "Underworld". The first chapter is by far one of the most brilliant and compelling works of fiction I've ever read. The seamless transitions between narratives, within the whole scope of the baseball game really was great. Plus, wasn't Frank Sinatra mentioned as one of the celebs as well?
2005-11-03 13:01:27
12.   NetShrine
Alex, welcome to the deep end!

From: http://www.netshrine.com/2006/about.html#curator

~~~The more I learn about baseball, the more I yield to the unequivocal conclusion that there is infinitely even more still unknown that can yet be learned.

Everything there is to the game of baseball, and I use "everything" in the purest definition of the word, has a quicksand nature to it. Just when you believe you've made some progress digging into it, along comes the realization that there's just as much still out there as when you first started. ~~~

2005-11-03 14:15:43
13.   Alex Belth
I don't mean to sound presumptuous but as I get older it feels nice to know that I don't think I need to act like I know everything. I'm only 34 but I feel more comfortable in not knowing everything now than ever before. What was it that Crash Davis said to Nuke LaLoosh, "Oh yeah, and you don't know shit." It's not to say I don't know anything but not having to act like I know it all sure is a relief. And it makes learning learning new stuff even more enjoyable.
2005-11-03 14:17:38
14.   randym77
Halloween night, Turner Classic Movies was airing two of my favorite old horror movies. ("The Uninvited" and "The Haunting," if anyone wants to know.) I am not really into movies much, let alone old movies, but I make an exception for horror flicks, especially on Halloween. Of course, I fell asleep before the movies ended. When I woke up, the horror marathon was over and they were showing the original version of "Angels In the Outfield." I'd never seen it before, and really enjoyed it. Several actual baseball players had cameos in it, including the Yankee Clipper. It was filmed in 1951, and one scene did take place at the Polo Grounds. I doubt they actually filmed there; they probably just took some news reel footage and stuck in the movie.

Well, that's as close as I've ever been to seeing the Polo Grounds. :)

2005-11-03 14:26:30
15.   Dimelo
This guy doesn't think ARod has a gambling problem. I have my own theories, I think by gambling is how ARod deals with "personal tragedy" - like the death of an uncle. Hitting into a double play at the worse possible time is not how I would handle it - but then again, that's just me.

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=lovinger/051102

2005-11-03 15:25:47
16.   randym77
All I can say is that Mrs. A-Rod must be a very understanding woman. How many "baseball widows" would let their husbands go out and play poker five nights in a row as soon as baseball season ended? ;-)
2005-11-03 15:28:04
17.   Dimelo
I'm sure she has 250 million things she can do in NY.
2005-11-03 17:36:14
18.   rilkefan
What's with the quotes on "personal tragedy"?
And:

"Hitting into a double play at the worse possible time is not how I would handle it - but then again, that's just me."

I hope this isn't what you meant to write.

2005-11-04 04:14:53
19.   singledd
A little off the topic but....
Like most sane people here, I am tired of the Yanks getting used-up brand name players.. especially at the expense of our farm. But there are some players who, as a person and a member of the team, are attractive to me.

Mike Piazza is one such guy. I think with the opportunity to NOT play the field, he will make a dangerous and productive DH. This guy IS the greatest hitting catcher in history. The fact that he is a 3rd string catcher is also an advantage, because it means your #1 catcher (Posada) can PH for the #2 guy when #2 starts a game.

We do not have a DH. Bernie, I love you... but a .250 DH does not help us. If we get an everyday CF, who is our DH? I'll bet Piazza would sign upo for a 1 or 2 year deal, for reasonable money, to stay in NY and be on a potential PS team.

I'm glad Boston has a regular DH, because I think Piazza could play ping-pong of the Green Monster at will.

Alex and Cliff... weigh in. I know it goes 'against the flow', but wounldn't Piazza look great in Pinstripes, and give us depth and bench help?

2005-11-04 05:14:54
20.   Dan M
Why can't Posada PH for the #2 catcher as it is? I think he PHed plenty of times for Flaherty. Having said that, I think Piazza is an intriguing pickup as the #2 catcher, who can DH the rest of the week.
2005-11-04 05:41:53
21.   Alex Belth
I'd like to see Piazza wind up in Cleveland or even Anahiem. Always liked him. Don't know if he fits for the Yanks. While they don't have a full-time DH, you figure you want to get Giambi, Sheffield and Posada at bats at that position, no?
2005-11-04 06:07:53
22.   jdsarduy
I like Piazza and I think he can hit 250. and 30 HRs as a DH which is pretty good numbers.
The way Joe manages I could see Piazza really giving Posada a break behind the plate.
And since Piazza does hit the ball to the opposite field a lot, Yankee stadium is a good fit for him.

The only thing that concerns me with him is his health and the Yanks have two potential designated hitters already, Giambi and Sheffield.
And with this move we could make this team slower than they already are and another double play hitter.

I rather see Sheffield and Giambi DH more and the Yanks get a LF and CF.
But there's no denying Piazza's offensive potential with the Yanks and in the AL, he can win games with his bat.

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