Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Beautiful game? How about this?

Now it can be told. When I wrote job application letters in the sixties to forty US magazine editors I lied about why I wanted to work in the USA. Fact is I wanted to watch live baseball. Not that I even knew the rules.

I arrived in Pittsburgh in winter and couldn’t wait until the season started. I dragged a friend to the freezingly cold Pirates’ opener in Forbes Field and had him explain the game. Thereafter I watched a huge amount of telly.

What’s this got to do with technology? Well, that’s my baseball glove in the inset. Because I’m right-handed I wear it on my left hand and, with luck, it helps me gobble up grounders and snag fly hits (even fungos!). After which I use my right hand to hurl the ball wherever it should go.

What a glove does for a baseball pro is something else again. Batting and pitching are easy to understand. What makes baseball special is that gloves transform fielders into figures of grace and efficiency. They reach balls that would elude even the most determined cricketer. What’s more they’re often expected to do this. If they don’t an error is charged against them.

Grace and efficiency – what do I mean? The shortstop is an infield player, lurking somewhere between second and third base. The batter, 40 m away, cracks a hard low drive to the shortstop’s right. But he doesn’t try to catch it with his right hand (“the meat hand”). He swings his gloved left hand down across his body turning the palm towards the ball. With practised elegance he makes the catch and tosses the ball insouciantly to the second-baseman. It’s quite routine but it makes me swoon.

4 comments:

Relucent Reader said...

That is why they call the shortstop position the "hot spot"; generally one of the busier infielders. The snag with the following throw is one of the better athletic ballets to watch.
Your glove has seen some use....it doesn't look too far gone, oil it up and have someone hit you some fungoes....
Nice post.

Barrett Bonden said...

I appreciate the compliment. Quite true about the throw. In fact before I wrote that post I'd just seen an Olympic women's softball game where Japan and Australia were tied two all, possibly in the ninth. It was the last out and Japan had a runner on second. The Australian third base threw out the runner at the plate. A great play! It brought back memories of Pirates' road trips, the unbearably tense World Series (71?) which they won and the taste of a cold Michelob.

Barrett Bonden said...

Make that left field, not third base!

Stella said...

Oh, the romance of it! Gorgeously put.