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From the baseball book

Wednesday 11/22/23

This is just excellent. There is no one else capable of writing this. Compare with the shitty writing in The Athletic, as just one example, which could be done by whomever. Because that's how it works with every other writer: someone else just could have done it. To use a sports term, they're all replacement level.


***


As a kid, my feelings for Dave Kingman were my sports version of the love that must not be named. I checked the box scores with great anticipation, and if I first saw that Kingman went 1 for 6, I became excited, because the 6 at-bats suggested that this was a high-scoring affair (I looked up Kingman before I bothered with the result of the game itself) and there was an excellent chance that the hit he had was a home run, because that was kind of the only hit that Dave Kingman got.


I was pretty sure that he hadn’t dropped a bunt down the third base line and legged out a single, the same way I’m sure that the tide rolls in and the tide rolls out, and that is both right and necessary, though I can also tell you that Kingman galloped around the diamond for an inside-the-park home run in 1982—or the ball momentarily became invisible in the outfield and Kingman took advantage of this, I’m not sure which—and that he had more thefts of home plate than Luis Aparicio, a speedster who only led the American League in stolen base nine times.


Part of me thinks that Kingman achieved these ancillary feats out of spite for those who’d always be quick to put him down as Mr. One-Dimensional, as if to say, “I could have been another sort of player, but I’m on a different plane, for I am one with the home run.”


Natural order isn’t as status quo as we think. It can be hard to come by, especially in whatever this world has become. We get to the end of a Shakespeare tragedy, and that natural order is officially restored. Out go the toxins, in comes the clean air. Mozart resolves a dissonance with a chord he may as well have gone to heaven to get, because he knew that he would find something vitally human there.


We learn to be honest with ourselves, and the prospect of a natural ordering of who we are—or may become—gains entry to our lives. Everything is what everything is. Everything has a fundamental reality. But you can alter and grow your ability to better perceive what that reality constitutes.


For me, Shakespeare had his part in the processes of viewing and revealing. And Mozart. But so too did Dave Kingman, getting a pitch on the middle on the inner half of the plate—a slider that didn’t slide—and jacking that bad boy moonwards and about fifteen rows deep in the left field bleachers, because it’s not like Dave Kingman was going to hit his home runs to the opposite field, which would have meant they didn’t travel as far.


And who wants that if they are also intent on utilizing their ability to know a fascinating player like Dave Kingman better? For there are all kinds of ways to travel in this world, and those of the greatest importance don’t require a passport. They require an ability to perceive. See. Accept. To bring imagination to bear on reality. Those are the journeys beyond miles. They are home run journeys—life on the other side of the wall.




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