Sunday, June 24, 2012

Buy American Substances: Pine Tar, for example.

See the child. He’s watching the baseball broadcast with his father, a former pitcher.

I ask Papa if he ever doctored pitches. He says no. Then he says he may have taken advantage of a drop of sweat or a nick now and again, but that sweat and nicks are okay because they’re a part of nature. I was a nature-type pitcher, Papa says more than a little lamely.

So Spit’s a part of nature too? I ask.

Just watch the game, he says.

On the television, Pee Wee Reese wonders aloud whether baseballs really get doctored much. Dizzy Dean snorts and says the question is whether they ever don’t. 

--just a snippet of a hilarious account of a Pee Wee/Dizzy broadcast in David James Duncan’s novel, THE BROTHERS K.

I thought of this when watching the Red Sox Broadcast the other day. They were talking about a pitcher on suspension for the use of pine tar. One of the broadcasters, a former pitcher, said that the use of pine tar always has been wide among pitchers because it helps them grip the ball.

One of the other broadcasters pointed out that the rule says that no foreign substance could be applied to the ball. The old pitcher (former player and Yankee broadcaster Jim Kaat) replied that pine tar was not a foreign substance at all, but was made in South Carolina.

Can’t help laughing.

Speaking of baseball books, I recently read DAMN YANKEES: TWENTY FOUR MAJOR LEAGUE WRITERS ON THE WORLD’S MOST LOVED (AND HATED) TEAM, edited by Rob Fleder. There are pieces by Roy Blount, Jr., Pete Dexter, Daniel Okrent, Colum McCann, Bill James, and many others.

I like the quote from David Rakoff:

“I hate baseball because of the lachrymose false moral component of it all, because it wraps itself in the flag in precisely the way the Republicans do and takes credit for the opposite of what it really is.”
“Baseball–and by baseball I mean its codifying straight-guy interpreters, its bloated Docker-clad commentariat–traffics in that same false nostalgia, fancying itself some sublime iteration of American values, exceptionalism, and purity when, in fact, it’s just a deeply corporate sham of over-funded competition…”

Especially the Yankees, “the apotheosis of Eminent Domain and rapacious capitalism.”

The essay I enjoyed most was Pete Dexter’s “The Errors of Our Ways.” Wow, this man can write!

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