When Stats Add Up to Poetry

I haven’t read too much John Updike. And I never saw Ted Williams play ball live, even on television. But honest to God, Updike’s famous essay on Williams’ last game [“Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu”] is on my list of favorite things. I already have a recorded version on CD which I listen to occasionally just as I re-watch “Hoosiers” every now and again as an antidote for creeping cynicism. And now, thanks to the Library of America, I have it bound in hardback too. I regard it instantly as a prized possession, a piece of me the heirs shall have to fight over in my aftermath. Why do I value it so? Because it marries a couple that were meant for each other and each of whom mean a lot to me - baseball and writing.

Updike was no baseball fan. But he saw the essence of the game’s appeal more clearly than just about all of the game’s most ardent followers are able to and articulated it. His insights are there for the taking in his reflections on the very last at bat in the career of the enigmatic Teddy Ballgame.

This newly minted edition is prefaced with some background and context about the author which he himself penned just a few months before his death last year. Also included is an afterword fashioned in part from the obituary Updike wrote of Williams for the New York Times when the latter died in 2002.

Of all the praise lavished upon the essay and its author, perhaps none is greater than to note that Williams himself, upon reading it, asked Updike to write his biography, an invitation that was declined despite the flattery of it. That may have been the only time the press-shy Williams ever asked anyone to write anything about him.

The occasion for this little publishing gem is the 50th anniversary later this year of the game and the player that inspired the essay and the author.

Put it this way. Once you’ve read “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu,” if anyone ever asks you why you love baseball, just point to it and tell them, “Updike said it best…”

 

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Comments

I agree, Mike. It's a beautifully written piece. You can read a copy on the web at http://www.baseball-almanac.com/articles/hub_...

...damn double post...

Now that it's bound Rob may list it in the library of TCR approved literature...

oh my god...

"He is 1-for-22 (.045) this season."

Ouch.

No good will come of this.

Well clearly this slow start is the Mariner's fault. And the Mariner's fans' faults. And don't forget it's their GM's fault for trading for him.

Not the fans' fault, but definitely the M's and especially their GM are to blame. Acquiring him is like burning your hand on the stove after watching 6 or 7 people do it first. He was ejected at least twice during ST and a week in already has flipped off fans on the road. If Silva doesn't throw another pitch for the Cubs I consider this a successful trade.

it's been added, should see it on the banner up top and at the link I inserted.

For an old bar keeper, you sure are literate.

Thanks Mike, I will be buying.

I was born in 1970 but the stories my father told me and the stats about Williams put him right behind Ruth as my favorite and best ball player.

Let's talk racism...

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slug=jp-dyeh...

Orlando Hudson is claiming (without actually saying the words) that Jermaine Dye and others can't find work because they are black.

I find the subject endlessly interesting.

Is Sheffield a first-ballot HOFer? Didn't he have some steroid mentions?

Jermaine Dye wants more money than he's worth. If that's a black thing, you can't understand, then I'm Todd Hundley.

This is dumb. Is Orlando Hudson slow?

Troy Glaus slow or someone else?

:-)

Jermaine Dye was offered a contract by the Cubs before Nady and the Nats wanted him recently as well, both around $3M. He's been one of the worse defenders in baseball over the last 3 years by UZR at least.

That's why he doesn't have a job.

He wants to be an everyday outfielder, not a dh.

Reality say hello to Jermaine.

http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/cubs/...

Lou getting impatient, so Marshall now going to get 8th innings...

''Marshall is a real nice option for us in the eighth inning,'' said Piniella, who watched rookie right-hander Esmailin Caridad and veteran John Grabow struggle in the eighth much of the first week. ''We can use him that way. He's throwing the ball as well as [anyone] we have in the bullpen.''

Russell getting upgraded too...

Russell, who pitched another scoreless inning in Monday's home opener, has stayed away from the walks that have plagued others in the pen.

''We've been holding him back a little bit,'' Piniella said of the son of former All-Star pitcher Jeff Russell. ''He's throwing the ball well. So we're going to give him an opportunity, too.''

but Lou's got that stubborn streak, too (who is chuck?)...

''We've relied basically on what we thought would be our shorter people [Caridad and Grabow] the first week. Those were the plans we had coming out of spring training. And certainly you don't chuck them after a few days. You stay with it.

who is chuck?
----
Twiggy Hartenstein
Chuck Rainey
or The Rifleman?

That last quote is actually one of the more reasonable things I've heard Lou say.

Who goes down when Gray is ready to contribute? Who goes down when Lilly is back in the rotation? Does Gorzo go to the pen, or does Silva? These are the questions I have right now. You kind of have to stick with Grabow and Caridad for at least another week (not necessarily in the 8th, but you've got to pitch them).

Berg, Samardzija, and Russell (because of the glut of lefties) have to be the first on the bubble when we need room on the active roster, right?

I wish Ninja could locate. His splitter was all over the place yesterday, and he's not exactly precise with the fastball.

That last quote is actually one of the more reasonable things I've heard Lou say.

Lou is very much into dismissing small sample sizes of performance, when they don't jive with what he wants.

from last week...

'We've just played two games, sir. 'We're not in our 22nd game or our 42nd. We've played two games, for God's sake. What do you want? Roles changed in two games? - Lou Piniella

so two games is too small a sample size, but 7 is completely reasonable.

nice catch

I don't think Caridad and Grabow are that short. But then, I've been watching games on my iphone and everybody looks short, except Z

Is it Chuck Norris? I feel a meme starting.

david cone on MLB Network dismissing pitch counts on pitchers who are established...he brought up a game he threw 160 pitches in april once.

yow...

They aren't made as tough as they use 'ta.

maybe he would have made it through age 40 if he did worry about pitch counts...

I keed.

general consensus is it's more a worry for players under 25, as a player gets older, it's much less a concern.

The hell with rotator cuff tears, labrum tears, ulnar collateral ligament tears. 160 pitches/outing correlates with getting an aneurysm of the subclavian artery!

Date: 05-11-1996, Saturday

NEW YORK -- David Cone has cleared the first obstacle in overcoming an aneurysm in his upper right arm.

The Yankees right-hander underwent successful surgery Friday
morning at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. The doctors who
performed the procedure said Cone should be able to pitch again, but
refused to speculate on whether he would be able to return …

http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P1-22508027.html

http://www.dailyherald.com/story/?id=372636

A Cubs source says Soriano has been put on notice that he must show something of value at the plate and in the field soon.

~snip~

Piniella apparently intends to field the best team possible - veterans be darned - knowing this could be his final season.

believe it when I see it...

if he goes 3 for 4 tomorrow he adds 75 points to his average.

g'luck dawg...6 starts in.

i also notice the section in that article about the sport of boo'ing...the new wrigley field tradition for anyone not immediately doing everything right.

also...

"Top of the seventh in center field, a few rows in front of the scoreboard, one guy in a Santo jersey throwing absolute haymakers over a security guard at a guy in a 17 jersey. Several patrons were escorted from the yard."

yeah...bleacher "creatures"...where the game is that other thing going on at the park.

also...also...

"Lou Piniella, when asked if the Ricketts family helped spur the Cubs to victory Monday: "Well, I don't think they got any basehits.""

bwhahah. awesome.

"if he goes 3 for 4 tomorrow he adds 75 points to his average.

You can do the research on this CRUNCH, but I do not recall the last time he went 3 for 4.

Or, if he did more than a couple times last year, he certainly gave it back with his Little League D.

I'm not arguing, but I do remember him hitting 3 homers in one game.

I remember many of the good things he did during his "Up streaks" as well.

It seems like years though...

I believed it when I said it (last Saturday.) "Lou is impatient for a good reason. He's fighting for his job, he's going to make other people, including rich pampered free agents, fight for theirs."

It seems to me that Ricketts has made pretty clear if they don't win this season Lou and Hendry are both gone. If this is true, why not bench Soriano if he doesn't merit the starting job. What is the worst they can do fire them?

soriano demanding a trade that probably can't happen while the increasingly flippant and enraged vocal fan base demands his head leading to a total shit-storm.

I imagine he gets pressure from the front office to start Soriano. Despite what we all think, people don't buy 3 million tickets a year to go see Tyler Colvin. People go to see the hot shots hit home runs. I ain't saying it's right, I'm just sayin...

"people don't buy 3 million tickets a year to go see Tyler Colvin. People go to see the hot shots hit home runs"

I think Cub fans saw enough of that circus 98-01. And I believe they just want to see the team win, and I think will sell out every game if they won 95 games 2-1 with no homeruns.

Ryno, I think you're misidentifying the source of the pressure to play Soriano. The Cubs' front office and a very high percentage of fans would love to be rid of that blight. I mean, the guy can't catch a moving baseball. What did he, miss three easy catches on Saturday and Sunday? A large number of fans have kids in little league who can do better.

The problem is that they owe him $90 million. They'd like to trade him and get back some of it. Even if they pay 2/3rds of what's left of his contract, they save thirty million. I think they would take that deal in a minute, and swallow $60 million. Sixty million dollars! My recollection is that the Zell-Ricketts deal got held up for months over fifty million.

But to trade him at all, first they have to prop him up and lay on the lipstick.

It's not that the fans want to see Soriano, they don't.

Remember that Ricketts said during his press conference that he's not likely to be dumping salaries - and for the most part they haven't - though a lot of people expected they would need to with Bradley.

"t seems to me that Ricketts has made pretty clear..."

Can you please give a specific quote or quotes from Tom that would lead you to this conclusion?

B/c it is not that clear to me.

I am hopeful, but it has not been made "clear" to me by management.

And to further confuse the situation (potentially), I don't see Lou and Hendry necessarily being treated similarly. If Ricketts decides to re-sign Lou, I assume Lou would want a 2-3 year deal so "in again would be in for a while". Ricketts will let Hendry (I think) finish out the year no matter what and may keep him around one more year for stability's sake. I see Hendry having a longer leash, mostly because (I think) he doesn't come up for a new contract first.

bah...

Hendry has repeatedly said if he's the GM, he wants Lou as his manager. If Hendry goes, Ricketts will hire a new GM and let him make the decision on the manager. By that point, I'm sure Lou will retire not wanting to deal with it.

as for Lou staying past this year, it's up to him, but it does seem like this is his last go-around.

I'd actually be surprised if the new GM gets to make a decision on the next manager. The new GM would have to accept Sandberg if he wants the job.

I am not sure I can point to a qoute so maybe it is really only just my impression.

Chipper Jones injures his back while testing his other injury

http://sports.yahoo.com/fantasy/blog/roto_arc...

Yep. And, speaking of injuries, how is our Brian Roberts trade working out?

http://vimeo.com/10868478

said he never felt like Mr. Cub while playing for the Cubs, not until he was inducted into HOF...intriguing stuff.

day games were a problem, but not because of the heat, but because they didn't eat lunch.

That interview with Ernie Banks was interesting. In Ernie's day, racism was easy to spot. It was blatant and obvious. Today, it's much more subtle. In fact, it's not always clear if a given action or situation is racist.

That brings me back to Orlando Hudson's charge that Jermaine Dye doesn't have a contract because he's black. To me, it seems like Dye doesn't have a contract because 1) he's older and his defense is bad, and 2) he has turned down 2-3 contracts that would have paid him multiple millions of dollars to play in 2010.

I don't see a racist angle to the story. And I guess that's the point. A charge of racism is made in situations where seemingly there is no racism at all. Does it seem like there is no racism because I am blind to it or is there truly no racism involved?

hudson just seems bitter cause he's been strung along on one-year deals the last 2 years when he was expecting a multi-year deal.

of course, I have no idea why he's not getting a multi-year deal.

are there a lot of white, 35+ right-handed hitting defensively-challenged corner outfielders that got jobs over the last few offseasons over the Sheffield's and Dye's of the world?

And as mentioned, pretty sure I read that Dye was the Cubs first choice for 4th OF'er over Nady.

I completely agree with what you are saying. Dye seems to me like a guy who doesn't have a job because he thinks his current skill set is worth more than the market is willing to pay. But when the racism charge is made, it just makes me stop and examine my own beliefs and assumptions.

Because I tend to take racism very seriously, it really bothers me when the race card is played in situations where no racism exists. The only problem is, it's sometimes tough to tell when there's racism and when there's not.

What a weird format. I never thought that Andy Dick's character from Talk Radio was actually based on someone.

what's happening with the site lately? I figured zambrano going to the pen would get everyone posting

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