Like Barry Bonds, Baseball Widow hasn't retired; she's just not playing.
Enjoy the archives. . .

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Friday postings? Well, that's not so much a rule as it is a guideline. . .

First item of business: Caught part of the Braves/Orioles game last night. Didn't see much, but I did manage an eyeful of Javy's triple. Let's pause for a moment of silent reflection. . .

Speaking of games that the Braves lost:
Baseball Widow has discovered that one of her students was present at Randy Johnson's perfect game against Atlanta. I haven't asked him if he's ever heard of the Baseball Widow.

Next up:
Baseball Widow has managed to land the fortunate job of reading the Sherlock Holmes adventures--all 56 short stories and 4 novels. They were my favorites in junior high, and now I get to re-read them, being paid for every second of it. That, my friends, is what Baseball Widow calls a dream job.

As many of you may know, Sherlock Holmes was an immensely popular character. When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle "killed" Holmes in a story, the public's outcry was such that Doyle resurrected Holmes. Even today, fans pilgrimage to 221-B Baker Street in London, the address at which the fictional character resided. Others are so intent upon translating the adventures into reality that they actively debate the resolution of continuity errors throughout the canon. At some point, Sherlock Holmes leapt from the pages of his books and planted himself firmly in realm of the ideal and absolute. Quite simply, it doesn't matter that Sherlock Holmes never actually existed; if you'll pardon some confusing logic, he exists now because he has to exist. It doesn't matter that he never said "Elementary, my dear Watson." He's said it now because it's been attributed to him.

Like literature, baseball is full of enduring characters--characters with traits that exist in legend if not in fact. To return to last week's reflections, Barry Bonds the man may or may not be a jerk to the press, but the historical "facts" demand that Barry Bonds the baseball player assume that role. Ty Cobb may have been a racist without comparison, or he may have been a commonplace product of his time. Ty Cobb the man isn't Ty Cobb the baseball player, though, and neither of them is the fictionalized Ty Cobb we've seen in screen depictions. In Baseball Widow's personal history, she's come to the realization that the stats don't support her rabid assertion that Marvin Freeman was the worst relief pitcher in Braves history. But it makes the memories of those games more interesting to continue the belief ungrounded in reality.

So, here's to the mind's eye, which sure can paint a messed-up picture.

And, finally, a lingering piece of business:
Baseball Widow has spent the last several months processing her reaction to being a female baseball blogger. She mentioned before that she would like to speak on the "feminist" angle, but she's just had a hard time coming to grips with her own opinion. On one hand, Baseball Widow likes to think that she's read because she writes well. On another, she knows that much of the initial attention her blog received was because of her gender and her unique hook.

Well, forget all that for the moment, and tell me what you think about this: At each home game, the Tennessee Smokies give away a prize to the "Female Fan of the Game". What's the prize? A shopping trip, of course. Baseball Widow thinks she's offended, but she's not sure why. She's been chewing on it for a couple of months now and still can't identify a solid line of reasoning. Baseball Widow isn't even sure if it's the title or the prize that riles her up most. (Of course, it's also a possibility that she's just upset that she's never won.) Anyway, let me know if you've got any ideas.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Since Baseball Widow has moved to the weekly format, she has plenty of time to think about her posts. Unfortunately, this means that a lot of post ideas float in and out of her brain before she has time to blog them. Yes, yes, Baseball Widow could jot them down the old fashioned way, but who wants to kill a tree when you can burn fossil fuels by using extra electricity? So, bear with me as I do my best to address some recent areas of thought.

--We Ain't Talking about Sandwiches, Either
Baseball Widow has gotten lots of great suggestions for the heroes/villains matchup. One of my favorites is the idea that Doc Ock, who possesses the potential to be a great pitcher, might not be the best choice simply because his balk rate would be astronomical. (Not that lack of playing potential has ever stopped Baseball Widow from signing someone. . .) Baseball Widow actually thinks the nickname would be the hardest thing to overcome. Can you say "Doc 'the Balk' Ock" without swallowing your tongue?

--Sight for Sore Eyes
The Eye-Candies have dropped Jose Reyes for Braves cutie Nick Green. Baseball Widow is sure that there are other hot prospects out there, but since she only watches Braves games, her pool is limited. Baseball Widow is seriously considering dropping Jaret Wright, though. He looked rough last time up, and I'm not talking about his pitching.

--Can you believe Terrence Moore wasn't included?
Picked up The Best American Sports Writing, 2003. In a word, it's not. Many stories concern baseball, but most of the selections are so overwrought that the reading can hardly be called pleasurable. Take, for instance, Gary Smith's "The Ball," as originally published in SI. The "American Story" behind the lawsuit over Barry Bonds' 73rd home run ball contains lines like, "Their eyes met, a few minutes before their fates did." At this point, Baseball Widow checked the cover of the book for a picture of Fabio.

Of course, almost all baseball writing suffers from emotional excess, so leave it to David Grann to tell just the facts in "Baseball Without Metaphor," a story that purports to reveal the "real" Barry Bonds, one who understands baseball is a business. So Barry Bonds thinks baseball is a business. Imagine if A-Rod thought that way: he could stand to make some serious money. . .

Look, Barry Bonds isn't a new breed of player; Honus Wagner was in it for the money, and he didn't care to be an idol. Even assuming that Bonds's screw-the-media mentality is radically different from that of other players, the only thing new about Bonds's behavior is his acknowledgement that he crafts a character who takes on a life of his own, independent from the "real" Barry. It's soap opera Barry--the one the audience loves to hate.

Unfortunately, for all his lack of metaphor, Grann still gets it wrong. The issue isn't really an overabundance of metaphors in baseball, it's an underrefined description of baseball as a microcosm. Baseball Widow will let you ponder that for a week.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Baseball Widow wanted to play catch-up on a couple of lingering items.

1. Smokies Game
Widow and Hubby managed to squeeze in another Tennessee Smokies game before leaving Knoxville. It was an eventful night. First, free hat night. Sweet. Second, since the Smokies were playing the Greenville Braves, Hubby went down to the dugout to get 3B prospect Andy Marte's autograph. He returned bemoaning the fact that Marte and all the players in the park were younger than he. (FYI, Hubby can't yet run for Congress, although Baseball Widow can.) Third, we got to see Widow fave Papo "Pop-Up" Bolivar receive the Southern League Player of the Week Award. Fourth, exciting news for Len Cleavelin: Cards' pitching prospect Brad Thompson was hot on the trail of the minor league scoreless inning record, which he recently broke.

2. Fantasy Team
No, not the Eye-Candies, poor souls. My latest intellectual quest is to determine the roster of the Superheroes (and Villians) fantasy team. Clearly, Spiderman is made for shortstop, and, on the other side, the Hobgoblin can seriously throw the heat. Haven't decided on the other positions, though. I'll keep you updated.

Baseball Widow and Hubby have settled in lovely Davidson, North Carolina, for their summer teaching positions. Baseball Widow will move to a weekly posting during June and July, and she plans to focus more specifically on criticism and commentary (not that you weren't enthralled by the posts about the yard sale). Please check in on Friday afternoons, and, of course, tell your friends to do the same.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Would You Rather?

When Baseball Widow gets bored during games, she plays her own game, "Would You Rather?" This is a variation on a game Baseball Widow first learned in college. In its collegiate form, it's a hypothetical Fear Factor. . . would you rather spend 24 hours in a pit with garter snakes all over you or five minutes in a tank with 1000 mosquitoes, one of which has West Nile Virus? Yes, we were certainly putting our tuition dollars to work.

Baseball Widow's latest question to Hubby is, would you rather have a batter who hits .320 or a batter who hits .300 but takes seven pitches every at-bat?

Hubby has flipped-flopped on his answer (these games usually last several days), and Baseball Widow doesn't really give a flip. I play the game just for the conversation.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Quick, what's a six letter synonym for Tony Batista's batting stance?

Baseball Widow knew it would happen. Things were going too well. She was enjoying blogging about baseball--stretching the intellectual muscles. She had made new friends. Even though the Braves were struggling, she was having fun. Even though Baseball Hubby was so engrossed with baseball that he forgot our anniversary. . . still, things were going well.


Here are the two stupid final straws:

1. Nomar Garciaparra in STUPID first place in the STUPID All-Star voting when he hasn't played a single STUPID inning all year. The guy's been playing in the minors, for goodness's sake. (Don't give me lip about the apostrophe _s_. It's grammatically correct, even if it looks stupid.)

2. Mike Hampton, facing the Expos, walked in a run during the top of the 4th. First problem: "walked in a run" wreaks havoc on my grammatical processing. Second problem: the batter got an RBI. Why is this a problem? WALKS DON'T COUNT AS AT-BATS. HOW CAN A BATTER POSSIBLY BAT IN A RUNNER IF THE BATTER DIDN'T HAVE AN AT-BAT?!?!?!
Okay, so this isn't the first time Baseball Widow has recognized this terrible inconsistency in the game, but tonight it's enough to drive me crazy.

Welcome to June, folks. The new season has lost its shine and Baseball Widow is beginning to remember exactly why she started this blog.