I can’t say baseball is my favorite sport. I wouldn’t sit on a couch watching it for hours every Sunday like the NFL. Hell, I’ll watch an Olympic basketball game between Slovenia and Germany, but some years the entire Major League Baseball playoffs will just slip right past me.
Baseball is, however, my favorite sport to write about.
There’s just something more literary about it. I always liked the passage in Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise where he assigns all his exes positions in the field. Bukowski had those poems where he’d put his top writing influences or whatever in an imaginary batting order. And of course there’s Malamud’s The Natural and Kinsella’s Shoeless Joe, which was the basis for Field of Dreams.
There’s also something more cosmic about baseball. Whispers from disembodied voices and ghosts appearing on a field in Iowa just fit better in a baseball story.
In fact without the cosmic dimension of baseball I wouldn’t even be where I’m at today. When I was a kid I would play this imaginary baseball game in my head and write down all the players and statistics. I would spend hours doing this, and no one got it, except maybe my brother. Then years later I discovered that Jack Kerouac did the exact same thing, and I went to an exhibit at the New York Public Library and actually saw his papers. The chills I got were probably the primary reason I ended up going to out to Boulder to the Jack Kerouac School at Naropa.
I know that most others in the poetry scene don’t really give a shit about baseball, but I’d still write and perform baseball stories at the mics. Usually a new one every year around the time of opening day.
- Were you great at college softball, and/or ever make someone bleed?
- Do you like weird thing from the 19th century, and/or relate with nervous breakdowns?
- Did you follow Major League Baseball in the 80’s, and/or appreciate the poetry of people’s names?
- Do you route for a team that are perennial losers, and/or find the murmurations of starlings breathtaking?
- Do you ever lose track of what inning it is, and/or get disappointed by our increasingly polarized society?
- Do you remember Oakland A’s prospect Todd Van Poppel, and/or make a poor investment in a collector’s item?
- Do you find baseball boring to watch sometimes, and/or are mesmerized by skeletons?
- Do not really notice baseball catchers, and/or have things about yourself you never want anyone else to find out?
- Did you get thrown of by the pandemic shortened baseball season, and/or want to know why the Gods are always disrupting our plans?
Me&You, Both! – Jonathan