April 17, 2010 |
It's hard to write good baseball fiction. The game is so unlikely, so bizarre at times, that it's a challenge to the fiction writer's imagination to do it justice. Who, for instance, could have invented Johnny Damon's at-bat in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the World Series last fall? He appeared to have been struck out by Brad Lidge (it was a foul tip), only to fight back and hit a single, and went on to steal two bases on a single play. From a near strikeout to third base in just a couple of pitches: You can't make that stuff up. This is the challenge Stephen King faces in "Blockade Billy," a novella (actually more of a long short story)
May 13, 2007 |
THESE long-ago games don't show up in baseball's official records. They are preserved in the memories of men and women who are very old now, and in the speckled black-and-white photos that survive from that time: shots of sheepish young men showing off their batting stance or a boy caressing a favorite bat, of crowds squeezing around the crude infields for a better view of the game, of a lanky kid kicking up dust as he slides hard into home. Americana, 1940s vintage.
March 31, 2006 |
On the morning of the opening of his newest, most personal work -- an opening that happens to coincide with Game 6 of the World Series -- playwright Nicky Rogan (Michael Keaton) sails Homerically through New York on a fleet of cabs, trying to fend off mythical monsters and skirt bad omens. The Mets are playing the Red Sox, and Nicky, a lifelong New Yorker, is a Red Sox fan. The reviewer assigned to his play is the famously acerbic and hard-to-please Steven Schwimmer (Robert Downey Jr.
January 16, 1994 |
Americans hate lawyers because they charge too much, and earn way too much. Because they are ruthless adversaries and feckless allies. Because they engage in double talk, manipulate the judicial system for their own ends and leave people feeling abused. Because they hide behind noble-sounding ideas--"serving justice"--while playing a meaner game. Take lawyer jokes as a source of insight instead of laughs. Americans regard lawyers as base and disloyal (Q: Why don't snakes bite lawyers?
June 21, 1994 |
While fans of American's pastime debate whether the baseball is juiced, at least one World Cup player thinks the soccer ball in use here has been altered. Belgian goalkeeper Michel Preud'homme said he thinks the ball has been reduced in size, perhaps to increase scoring for Americans who might not appreciate low-scoring soccer games. "The ball is different than in previous competitions. It's smaller and it goes faster," he said. "The goalkeeper must adapt.
May 2, 2006
Re " 'Nuestro Himno' Foes Say U.S. Song Should Be in English," April 29 A group of talented Latino musicians choose to offer a heartfelt tribute to our nation and national anthem by singing it in their first (not only) language, and they get treated like they've committed murder. President Bush finds it unacceptable; Francis Scott Key's great-great grandson calls it "despicable." This despite the fact that it seems to be an American pastime to butcher the anthem at sporting events.
January 11, 1992
I have finally understood the meaning of "The inmates are running the asylum," when I read the item of the Padres paying 31-year-old Tim Teufel a guaranteed contract of two years for $1.5 million. Here is a guy who hit .228, with a mere 11 home runs, and is not that "swift" with a glove. And base stealing--forget it. As I am recovering from this shock, I turn the page and read where Mike Gallego, former Oakland A's infielder who is 31, is hitting a lifetime .228, 12 home runs, adequate with a glove with several stolen bases, signing with the Yankees for three years for $5.1 million.
May 19, 2012 |
John Grisham is to literature what Cheerios are to a rushed breakfast, something you buy in bulk and consume without too much thought. Honestly, I'm relieved when a new Grisham book doesn't weigh more than I do. Yet his newest work, "Calico Joe," is as slender as a Dodgers shortstop. Coming in at under 200 pages, it is a breezy little baseball novel that will probably appeal to many men the way Nicholas Sparks' stories appeal to that other sex. Strangely, considering the subject matter, it is amazingly unevocative of the game itself.
January 3, 1995
These were the trophy-winning floats in Monday's Tournament of Roses parade: Sweepstakes Trophy: "Defending Home Court," Countrywide Funding Corp. Lathrop K. Leishman Trophy: "Winter Wonderland," city of St. Louis. President's Trophy: "The Grand Canal Race," Florists' Transworld Delivery Assn. Grand Marshal's Trophy: "Islands of Eden: Quest for Adventure," Republic of Indonesia. Directors' Trophy: "Photo Safari," Eastman Kodak Co.