Commonplace (Happy Opening Day)

“That’s what they get for building a stadium on the ocean.”

Oil Can Boyd, after a game was fogged out in Cleveland

**************************

“Time has not exactly stopped, but it’s become elastic, elongated—which is not something that happens often in modern American technological life. Basketball, football, soccer, hockey, they look like how we live now: furious activity, racing against a clock, the game carefully timed, the clock running for the action, the clock stopping between spurts of action, stopping so long between the action (for powwows, referee judgments, commercials) that while these games are measured at one hour they actually take two or three to broadcast. In those sports, between the furious activity time goes dead. But in baseball … there’s no clock, no one is allowed to measure time. Time, in baseball, is what it used to be: an element that varies with the activity, something not quite in anyone’s control—as Tom Glavine has said, ‘Baseball does what it wants, when it wants; you never really know when a baseball game will end.’ All nine innings must be played; and more, if there’s a tie; and an inning may take 10 minutes or an hour, no one knows. In fact, an inning of baseball is the only regularly scheduled television event that no one can measure or control—it can take 10 minutes, it can take an hour, and during that time no one cuts in for a commercial except when a new pitcher takes the ball.”

—Michael Ventura, “An Activity of Alchemies

**************************

“A fair weather fan is not what I am,
Even though my zip code has changed
I might smile and enjoy where I’m currently employed
But my soul can’t be rearranged
So hard to understand
So hard to understand
Fair weather fans.”

—The Baseball Project, “Fair Weather Fans”

**************************

“My mother believed in baseball. What made 1947 such a special year? I told you that the Dodgers had spring training in Cuba instead of the South, as was customary, but I didn’t remind you of why. This was the year that Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson integrated the major leagues. This was the year that baseball ceased to be merely a game and became a morality play. This was the year that many people who didn’t care about baseball at all followed the Brooklyn Dodgers as if their lives depended on it. There was a brief time when baseball really did matter as much as people are always saying it does, and that time was 1947.”

—Karen Joy Fowler, The Sweetheart Season

**************************

“Celine will bat

lead-off,
Shostakovich is in the
second
spot,
Dostoevsky should hit
3rd,
Beethoven will definitely bat
clean-up,
Jeffers is in the 5th

spot,
Dreiser can hit
6th
and batting 7th
let’s have

Boccaccio
and 8th the
catcher:
Hemingway.

“the pitcher?
hell, give me the
fucking
ball”

—Charles Bukowski, “9 Bad Boys”

**************************

…And here’s Dock Ellis on his most famous game:

About Walter Biggins

Walter Biggins is a writer based in Athens, GA. His work has been published in RogerEbert.com, Bookslut, The Comics Journal, Salon, The Baseball Chronicle, Jackson Free Press, and Valley Voices: A Literary Review. Follow him on Twitter (@walter_biggins), and check out his bimonthly newsletter (https://tinyletter.com/Walter_Biggins).
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