THE San Francisco Giants Blog

Reality and Writing and Baseball

Posted in Uncategorized by Flavor on November 10, 2011

I’m glad that some of you appreciated the thread I posted yesterday afternoon and I was fine with the Penn St posts after several hours of abstaining from the topic. And the Rick Perry video had me LQTM as I sipped my coffee this morning. I still haven’t turned on the news or looked at any other website this am. I can’t really bring myself to watch the Penn St kids, blinded by their idealistic naivete, rioting around their campus and their fallen hero. I remember being at a Christmas dinner with extended family back in the late 80’s and I was spouting off a bunch of bullshit I’d learned in school in response to something one of my uncle’s had said. The debate got pretty heated, I kept blathering away the defined box of information I had learned in my political science class that quarter. Finally, my uncle, a self-made extremely successful man, said calmly, “Craig, let’s have this discussion in 10 years after you’ve lived your life outside of Lewis and Clark.” Despite his calm tone he sounded like a condescending asshole and all this did was infuriate me more but he refused to go on with the argument.

Of course, he was right. Higher education is a wonderful way to blow off the top of the box of what you thought you knew growing up, what you were told to believe  as a child. But it has it’s flip side and living in your own little world, no matter how evolved and educated, still leaves you with major gaps in your understanding of the real world–the world everyone else is living in while you are getting your spiffy diploma and brand new perspective on life.

So before I watch the videos of these kids I wanted to remind myself of where they are today in their lives. They take classes that equip them with much more current information than any of us have, it would be ignorant to deny that fact. But the little world they live in has shuffled common sense to the back of their brain. Ten years from now they’ll see how stupid they were last night and feel ashamed about it………

I might have to read a few more baseball passages today. Is there any sport that is written more poetically than baseball? Think about it, it’s not even close. Can you imagine someone writing the way Giamatti did about football? Baseball prose is the quickest and easiest way to take me back to being a kid. And it’s amazing, you get taken back to only the good things you remember about being a kid. Despite my brain telling me that it wasn’t that idyllic,  my life as a child had it’s share of terrible moments. And yet, I read a piece like “The Green Fields of the Mind” and all I can remember is the best childhood anyone ever had.

If any of you have some good baseball books or passages you’d like to share, please do so in this thread. I have a feeling my blood is going to boil over certain current events today and I’m gonna need something to balance me back to baseline………

76 Responses

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  1. willieD said, on November 10, 2011 at 7:58 am

    I love baseball cliches, which are kind of like country songs that explain life
    You can’t steal first base, or how much did M. Bourn help the Braves.
    You don’t walk off the island…one of my fav books is Eastern Stars about life in san pedro de macoris, D.R.
    Good field, no hit…and I’d gladly settle for Clint Barmes at SS, who isn’t dal maxvill
    You can’t catch a walk…as bill king used to say in imitation of billy martin’s drinking buddy art fowler
    Tip your cap, …over the course of 162, even the worst teams win 60 plus times

  2. Nipper said, on November 10, 2011 at 8:15 am

    BF pondering …..

  3. Nipper said, on November 10, 2011 at 8:21 am

    Flannery has a good voice. Perhaps some of you tight-fisted Flappers can shell out for his CD.

  4. zumie said, on November 10, 2011 at 8:27 am

    BF, you’ve written a lot of mighty fine posts here over the last few years, but this one is quite possibly your best one yet.

    • Flavor said, on November 10, 2011 at 9:21 am

      thanks, that’s cool of you to say.

  5. zumie said, on November 10, 2011 at 8:44 am

    Ah….baseball books….love ’em!
    I could write a lot about basball books, and I’ll try to get back later today on this topic. For now, I’ll say, it all started for me with a library copy of “Year Of The Tiger,” by Jerry Green, a 1969 book that is probably out of print now. I read it as a kid, and it captivated me. It’s about (as you would guess) the Tigers’ 1968 championship season. It contributed greatly to my life-long love of baseball and baseball books. Thank you, Jerry Green!

    • willieD said, on November 10, 2011 at 8:55 am

      Yeah…as a kid my parents had two hard cover history of the AL/NL books around, and I read them constantly. The Long Season about the Reds by relief pitcher Jim Brosnan I used to read on the bus going to 6th grade school across town. I was hooked.
      Like Richard Pryor said,…”you can’t get hooked on no cocaine. My friends been snorting for 15 years, they ain’t hooked.”

  6. ewisco said, on November 10, 2011 at 8:48 am

    I still have my copy of “The Umpire Strikes Out”. Very funny.

  7. zumie said, on November 10, 2011 at 9:18 am

    As a kid, I read a bunch of baseball books aimed for kids. I don’t remember hardly any of them, but they were more fun than my actual Little League experiences. I loved baseball as a kid, but I wasn’t very good at it. Much later in life, I did become a pretty good Friday night softball player, and participated on some good teams.

  8. twinfan1 said, on November 10, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Well, a thread like this is just no good at all without a few quotes from Satchell Paige. Here’s a few that may not be as well known as some:
    “I don’t generally like running. I believe in training by rising gently up and down from the bench.”
    “I ain’t ever had a job, I just always played baseball.”
    “If your stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts.”
    “My pitching philosophy is simple – keep the ball way from the bat.”
    “Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching.”

  9. unca_chuck said, on November 10, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Didn’t know that last one was Satchel Paige . . .

    Thought is was a Hallmark card . . .

    • twinfan1 said, on November 10, 2011 at 9:42 am

      Starting shit already?

      Chuckles and his pals Goobs and Goobs Jr.were driving along in their pickup when they saw a sheep caught in the fence with its hind end up in the air

      Goobs said, “I wish that was Charlize Theron.”

      Junior echoed, “I wish it was Scarlett Johansson.”

      Chuckles sighed, “I wish it was dark ….”

      • unca_chuck said, on November 10, 2011 at 11:42 am

        Starting shit? It’s a comment, Mike. Settle yer biscuits down there, sport.

        Funny stuff, Mike. How’s 4th grade treating you?

        Paige borrowed it from this guy, anyway:

        “You’ve gotta’ dance like there’s nobody watching,
        Love like you’ll never be hurt,
        Sing like there’s nobody listening,
        And live like it’s heaven on earth.”

        -William W. Purkey-

      • twinfan1 said, on November 10, 2011 at 11:57 am

        Actually, Mark Twain has also been credited. “Purkey takes credit for “most” of the wording, but admits many people have said similar phrases.” It’s not clear at all who originated it, and there are so many versions, that it can’t be said just who “borrowed” it, Dippy.

      • unca_chuck said, on November 10, 2011 at 12:12 pm

        Then why attribute it to Satchel Paige, skippy?

      • twinfan1 said, on November 10, 2011 at 12:39 pm

        Because he said that version, moron. You are claiming, without confirmation, that he stole it. Even the the author you quote admits that many have said similar phrases. I cited from the “Official Satchell Paige Quote Page” at
        http://www.satchelpaige.com/quote2.html
        The question is why you’d choose to mock his quote. Annyway, perhaps you’d like to write to them. Really, Mister Dark and Stormy Night speaks out on literature…

      • unca_chuck said, on November 10, 2011 at 1:26 pm

        The “Official Satchell Paige Quote Page”.

        Fuck, I’m sorry. satchel wrte that web page, right?

        It HAS to be the be-all end-all of everything Satchel Paige.

      • twinfan1 said, on November 10, 2011 at 2:49 pm

        It’s a quote attributed by several sources to Paige . What the fuck are you, the Quote Nazi?

  10. Flavor said, on November 10, 2011 at 9:32 am

    “Any baseball is beautiful. No other small package comes as close to the ideal in design and utility. It is a perfect
    object for a man’s hand. Pick it up and it instantly suggests its purpose: it is meant to be thrown a considerable
    distance-thrown hard and with precision. Its feel and heft are the beginning of the sport’s critical dimensions; if it
    were a fraction of an inch larger or smaller, a few centigrams heavier or lighter, the game of baseball would be
    utterly different.

    Hold a baseball in your hand … Feel the ball, turn it over in your hand; hold it across the seam or the other way,
    with the seam just to the side of your middle finger. Speculation stirs. You want to get outdoors and throw this
    spare and sensual object to somebody or, at the very least, watch somebody else throw it. The game has begun.”
    — Roger Angell in Five Seasons

    • ewisco said, on November 10, 2011 at 9:53 am

      I have that one too. I knew it sounded familiar. I actually re-read it in the last year. There’s a sequel or was that the sequel? i forget. good writing though.

    • PawlieKokonuts said, on November 10, 2011 at 11:50 am

      Roger Angell is always great, and his WS wrap-ups, in the middle of winter, are always a treat in The New Yorker.[He grew up a Giants fan, I believe, and still has great love for them.] Funny. I don’t recall one from him last year. Either he did not do one [he may be close to 90] or I was too busy basking. Angell did one of his greatest essays, in my view, on catching. Catchers’ equipment the tools of ignorance? Nope. Catchers are smart.

  11. Flavor said, on November 10, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Since baseball time is measured only in outs, all you have to do
    is succeed utterly; keep hitting, keep the rally alive, and
    you have defeated time. You remain forever young.
    – Roger Angell

  12. unca_chuck said, on November 10, 2011 at 9:37 am

    The Autumn wind is a pirate
    Blustering in from sea
    With a rollicking song he sweeps along
    Swaggering boisterously.
    His face is weatherbeaten
    He wears a hooded sash
    With a silver hat about his head
    And a bristling black mustache
    He growls as he storms the country
    A villain big and bold
    And the trees all shake and quiver and quake
    As he robs them of their gold.
    The Autumn wind is a Raider
    Pillaging just for fun
    He’ll knock you ’round and upside down
    And laugh when he’s conquered and won.

    Sorry, this was one of my favorite poems as a kid.

    NFL Films and their highlights (and John Facenda) was always a treat for me.

    • shaman138 said, on November 10, 2011 at 3:29 pm

      Really?? Who knew? Someday, it will be relevant again….obviously not this season.

  13. twinfan1 said, on November 10, 2011 at 9:49 am

    Facenda sounded like the Fuhrer celebrating the invasion of Poland. Football, as Chuckles’ poem demonstrates, has never inspired great literature.

  14. twinfan1 said, on November 10, 2011 at 9:58 am

    There are some books, like “Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Road Trip into the Heart of Fan Mania” that humorously talk about the folks who get to the stadium on Wednesday for the Saturday game, the goobers who marry in their bowling shirts in the parking lots, who skip their daughter’s wedding because it’s on game day… that’s about the pinnacle for football literature…

  15. TedSpe said, on November 10, 2011 at 10:14 am

    Excellent intro, Flav. Gold, my friend

  16. twinfan1 said, on November 10, 2011 at 10:14 am

    A lot of folks didn’t like the film, although it’s one of the best baseball films ( I suspect they’re football fanatics who don’t understand allegory) , but “The Natural” is also one of, if not the greatest, novels about baseball. ( If one can really declare that it’s “about baseball”..)

    • unca_chuck said, on November 10, 2011 at 11:47 am

      Yeah, if cornball hyperbole, and knee-jerk sentimentalism is your cup of tea, it’s an oustanding movie.

      The book is good.

      The movie? Pure hokum.

      • twinfan1 said, on November 10, 2011 at 12:02 pm

        This from the dipshit whose favorite poem is “The Autumn Wind” by noted poet Steve Sabol…
        Follow up: “Dick and Jane Puke on the Couch at Half Time”

      • Nipper said, on November 10, 2011 at 1:36 pm

        BLEEP hokum!

  17. TedSpe said, on November 10, 2011 at 10:23 am

    When we played softball, I’d steal second base, feel guilty and go back. ~Woody Allen

  18. twinfan1 said, on November 10, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Like most sites, Barnes and Noble has reader reviews. This one, from a young man who read “The Natural”, is a mini-classic
    “I read this book as a 9th grader and it was the best. The begining was slow, but in the end you felt better that ( you) finished a great book not just about the boring sport of baseball. “

  19. twinfan1 said, on November 10, 2011 at 10:50 am

    Link to the right for comments on the anniversary of Magic’s HIV announcement…

  20. TedSpe said, on November 10, 2011 at 10:56 am

    England and America should scrap cricket and baseball and come up with a new game that they both can play. Like baseball, for example. ~Robert Benchley

  21. Sierra Nevada said, on November 10, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Great post BF, and terrific quote from Roger Angell. You are on fire today.

    Yesterday was a nightmare for me. My son got sick and I had to spend all day helping him, so I had to try to get work done at night. Sucked. Driving to work at night, I listened to KNBR as Byrnss interviewed Descalso. At first I was pissed because he was interviewing somebody other than a Giant about something other than the Giants winning the world series, and I just wasn’t in a generous mood. But after listening for a few minutes, I became ashamed of myself, here I was hating on two guys talking about a great world series win and a magical game.

    I don’t like it when my tribalism trumps my humanity. I mellowed out and enjoyed the interview.

    Tying this into the Penn State thing, there is true horror on display right now, from the depravity of Sandusky, to the ‘protect the program at all costs’ cover-up, to the fucking idiotic student riots in the wake of the Paterno firing. Shit. When are we gonna get it that we shouldn’t give up our humanity? Not for a team, not for a tribe, not for a job. Not Ever.

    • Nipper said, on November 10, 2011 at 11:38 am

      For me a good BF, Twin fight beats any baseball book. Some strong Chuck BLEEPS thrown in too would be nice.

  22. Nipper said, on November 10, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Humanity is the first casualty of humans protecting themselves, their family, their friends, their co-workers, their professions…. etc. It’s all on display in this latest scandal.

  23. PawlieKokonuts said, on November 10, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    Children’s offer and poet Nancy Willard wrote “Things Invisible to See,” which sort of includes a baseball against Death, if I recall. It features God playing baseball with a pickup bunch of archangels. Every time God pitches, change takes place in the destinies of the folks in Ann Arbor, Mich.

  24. PawlieKokonuts said, on November 10, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    “There is no written rule, but it is part of baseball’s rich common law that batters shall not glance back to see where the catcher is setting up because that reveals the intended pitch location. A catcher may give a peeking batter a polite warning. If the batter is a recidivist, the catcher then may set up outside but call for a pitch inside. When the batter leans out toward where he thinks the pitch is going, his ribs receive a lesson about respecting the common law. Sport is a moral undertaking because it requires of participants, and it schools spectators in the appreciation of, noble things–courage, grace under pressure, sportsmanship. Sport should be the triumph of character, openly tested, not of technology, surreptitiously employed.” George F. Will

  25. Nipper said, on November 10, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    As for books, if one likes to read about the real old days of the early 20th Century of baseball, “The Glory of Their Times” by Lawrence S. Ritter is a very nice effort. Some of those old players were characters.

  26. PawlieKokonuts said, on November 10, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella is very decent, if you can be open to fantasy. In the early 1980s a friend of mine living in Calgary [now on Cayman Brac] recommended this book to me; I think the author was her friend. It became Field of Dreams. Incidentally, the author [played by James Earl Jones] that the protagonist searches for is J.D. Salinger. One little thing the movie got right: “Want to have a catch?” is how someone from Brooklyn would say it, as we did in Stamford, CT. In our housing project, only a pansy would say, “Want to play catch?” But if I had to pick my favorite of all baseball books, I’d have to say it is The Seventh Babe, by Jerome Charyn. Haven’t read it in more than 20 years, but I remember I loved it totally. The Seventh Babe. Even the title is gorgeous.

  27. PawlieKokonuts said, on November 10, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Rod Barajas signs w/ Pirates. Can’t we even sign a Rod Barajas as a backup? C’mon!

  28. PawlieKokonuts said, on November 10, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    AP reporting that Pat Burrell likely, though not certainly, retiring. Thanks, Pat, for your important help in bringing us the ring. Probably can be a thread in itself. (Don’t thread on me, though. Hahahahahaha.)

  29. snarkk said, on November 10, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    I liked Facenda’s voice.
    Not sure, tho’, if it was the “voice of God”.
    If God has a voice, I hope it’s like that of Catherine Deneuve at 40…

    • TedSpe said, on November 10, 2011 at 3:59 pm

      If God has a voice, it would probably sound different to each person based on their own expectations and proclivities. So in my case…probably Peter Lorre

    • twinfan1 said, on November 10, 2011 at 5:36 pm

      There were some great voices of football, this book has anecodeotes from some of the best
      ray

      • Flavor said, on November 10, 2011 at 7:24 pm

        I just watched a couple of videos of your dad on youtube–never heard him before. At least I never KNEW I was hearing him before. He sure had a great voice.

  30. twinfan1 said, on November 10, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Well, if you buy into football as a metaphor for war and sexual penetration- Facenda was the voice for it.

  31. snarkk said, on November 10, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Wilson Ramos of Nats kidnapped in Venezuela, probably for ransom.
    If I’m the Giants, Panda’s not visiting home this offseason, bring the family up here….

  32. unca_chuck said, on November 10, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Pawlie, about peeking at the catcher, I think it was the Astrodome where (observant) players could tell how the catcher was lined up by the shadows created by the lights behind hoime plate.

    • TedSpe said, on November 10, 2011 at 5:31 pm

      Cheeky little bastards

  33. zumie said, on November 10, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    I don’t have much to say about the voices of football, but I have been very impressed with NFL Films over the years. It doesn’t even fully get the credit it deserves for the growth in popularity of the NFL, but also just as an art form. NFL Films really should have an Oscar by now, if it doesn’t already. The Academy Awards gives Oscars every year to long-form documentaries, and short documentaries. Surely they could spare a special Oscar of some kind for NFL Films. Just the tight shot of a spiraling pass going 60 yards through the sky and into the hands of a wide receiver in full stride should get them the award. Yeah, NFL Films never plays in a movie theater, so maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree, and should be talking about Emmies. But the Emmies don’t have the same prestige as the Oscars. I’m guessing NFL Films has won an Emmy or two at some point. Heck, Joe Morgan won a few Emmies. They’re giving those things out like door prizes.

  34. zumie said, on November 10, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    I like this quote I just found about NFL Films:
    “Salon.com television critic Matt Zoller Seitz has called NFL Films “the greatest in-house P.R. machine in pro sports history . . . an outfit that could make even a tedious stalemate seem as momentous as the battle for the Alamo.””

    And NFL Films has won 105, count’em, 105 Sports Emmies.

  35. Flavor said, on November 10, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    I’m not a huge NFL films guy. Everything from NFL films sounds the same–very dramatic and manly. I’m not against it, I just don’t seek it out. What I never get tired of is listening to replays of past Niner td’s. In baseball, when a possible hr is hit, there is a wide range of calls. Some nail it, most are underwhelming. But a touchdown call is a slam dunk. Especially the long runs. I could listen to those long Steve Young run td’s all day long. The announcer sounds like he’s crying at the end, he’s so happy……..

  36. twinfan1 said, on November 10, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    I think Ed Sabol is still alive, I’d think he’s well into his 90’s. He and my Dad received the Order of the Leather Helmet award by the NFL Alumni Association, in 1987. This year Ed was inducted into the NFL HOF. He and son Steve, of course, were the founders of NFL Films..

  37. Flavor said, on November 10, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    like this…

  38. unca chuck said, on November 10, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    Yeah, Ed’s still alive, and Steve is battling cancer. Growing up, I loved that stuff. The game of the week, and the highlight stuff. With nothing like ESPN it was the only way to see other teams.

    That was Lon Simmons and Wayne Walker. Great game. We were sitting in the wrong end zone, and all I was watching was the people stand up as Young got farther down the field. Kind of a static wave that crept down both sides of the stadium. Only when the people in the south end zone jumped up and signaled touchdown did we know that he made it.

  39. twinfan1 said, on November 10, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    The networks were so stingy with their film, NFL Films became a necessity..

  40. ewisco said, on November 10, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    zumie, I agree that those bits of “documentation” need to be recognized. I just never thought of it as an oscar or an emmie. Twin, i know you don’t appreciate the “poetry” but it was still GROUND BREAKING when it was happening. CAN’T MISS. and john facenda did a fabulous job. blaming him is like blaming james earl jones. he had a great voice and he read the material. so that makes him the hitler? please.

  41. unca chuck said, on November 10, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    Yeah, NFL Films was fairly instrumental in growing the popularity of football in the 60s. ESPN’s A Football Life did a story on Ed Sabol and it is a great story. The guy started out in his father in law’s coat factory selling overcoats. He just happened to love filming his family with a movie camera. He talked Pete Rozelle into letting him film (and paid him $5,000 for the right to do it) games from the sidelines.

  42. twinfan1 said, on November 10, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    The material was intended to simulate war. I don’t blame him for anything- he was a great Fuhrer or FDR, take your pick. I know all about NFL films, my Dad did a lot lof work for them. The networks were cheap bastards, don’t know how it is now but back in the day you usually heard the radio call on network highlights because they didn’t have to pay them. Anyway, the production values and camera work for NFL Films was great, the “poetry” was embarassingly simplistic and cornball , designed to appeal to the couch potato “Marine”. Almost all of the announcers who did any work for NFL Films were mortified to mouth it… Now I’m going to hut hut to bed.

  43. twinfan1 said, on November 10, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    Facenda WAS great, if you’d needed a voice to make putting the flag up for Memorial Day as exciting as Iwo Jima, he’d have been the man to hire. He just had some terrible stuff to recite.This is better

  44. ewisco said, on November 10, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    Hitler had a high pitched voice when it wasn’t hoarse. Facenda sounds nothing like him. you could never mistake one for the other. unless john had some weird mustache i wasn’t aware of, it’s a very odd comparison.

    of course the dialogue was “war like”. they’ve always tried to compare football to war. while i’ve known some football players and some soldiers, i’ve never seen a football player nervous about a tree line. or a car sitting by the road.

    NOT comparable.

    • shaman_138 said, on November 11, 2011 at 12:00 am

      Nothing compares to Carlin..nothing. He is GOD.

    • twinfan1 said, on November 11, 2011 at 1:45 am

      If you read this, Eric, just forget the post that had been here. You did’nt understand what I meant, which was undoubtedly my fault.

  45. shaman_138 said, on November 10, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    Da greatness of Da Raiders!

    • Nipper said, on November 11, 2011 at 8:29 am

      RAIDERS! Finally the Raiders have a QB.


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