July 25, 2014 | by Dan Piepenbring
Even the losers
Keep a little bit of pride
—Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
About a month ago, when I last wrote about The Paris Review’s softball team, I called us “damn fine.” “The Parisians are on something of a hot streak,” I had the gall to say, noting that we’d “met with defeat only once, at the hands of The Nation.”
Then July happened.
Reader, you gaze upon the words of a broken man. (Specifically a broken right fielder.) Today, that “damn fine” is inflected with callow hubris; that “hot streak” runs lukewarm. After three more games—against Vanity Fair, New York, and n+1—our season is over, and our win-loss record is a measly 4-4.
The close of yesterday’s game found us supine on the Astroturf, wondering: What happened back there? That’s for history to decide, or the trolls in the comments section. Whatever the case, our early, easy victories against the likes of The New Yorker and Harper’s now seem like distant memories.
The trouble started with our game against Vanity Fair, whose chic black-on-black uniforms belied their brutish athleticism. (And their trash talking: “Don’t just tweet about it,” shouted their third-base coach, “be about it.”) They eked out a 5-4 victory; I ate some of their pizza in recompense. Our spirits were still high enough, at that point, for a group photo: Read More »
July 1, 2014 | by Dan Piepenbring
A certain literary quarterly graced Page Six this morning, and it’s not because we’re in rehab or recently posed nude or hosted a tony, freewheeling charity dinner in Sagaponack—though we aspire to do those things, ideally all at once.
No, it’s because we have a damn fine softball team.
Fact is, The Paris Review Parisians are on something of a hot streak; in our five games this season, we’ve met with defeat only once, at the hands of The Nation. And we play a good clean game: no pine tar, no corked bats, no steroids (unless you count the occasional can of Bud Light). We believe, like Susan Sarandon in Bull Durham, in the Church of Baseball. It was only a matter of time until we attracted the attention of the gossip rags. Says the Post of our game against Harper’s last week,
“A string of ‘Parisian’ homers” put eight more runs on the board … the “mercy rule” was invoked—meaning nobody kept count … A spy said of The Paris Review’s crew that also pummeled The New Yorker two days earlier: “Their team was so good-looking and so coordinated, I could hardly believe any of them actually knew how to read. Let alone know what to do with a semicolon.”
The print version of the piece puts an even finer point on it: “Literary sluggers in rout,” its headline says.
In just a few hours, the Parisians—now well acquainted with the art of being vain—take on Vanity Fair, itself no stranger to Page Six. What’s at stake is more than just bragging rights: it’s what John Updike called, in “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu,” “the tissue-thin difference between a thing done well and a thing done ill.”
June 26, 2013 | by Cody Wiewandt
Team |1|2|3|4|5|6|7|8|9|10 Total n+1 |2|0|0|1|0|1|0|0|0|0 4 TPR |0|0|3|1|0|0|0|0|0|1 5
After a week off due to bad weather, the 2013 Paris Review softball season finally had its second act last Thursday afternoon: a riveting extra-inning victory over friendly rival n+1. Although last season’s meeting resulted in a easy TPR win, these two teams have, historically, been very competitive, and this year’s game—which took place at our new home field in West Chelsea—was a characteristically tight contest throughout. General notes (linear and tangential), thoughts, and feelings on the game below:
- n+1 scored first on some hard hits by the top of their lineup, but the damage was mitigated by some stellar TPR outfield defense, which would prove to be a recurring theme.
- Pitching for our opponents was Marco Roth, the sometimes dominant but always infuriating, screwballin’ n+1 editor and cofounder. He wore a Pier Paolo Pasolini cotton replica T-shirt jersey; Pasolini, Italian poet and filmmaker, was a surprisingly keen softball player, frequently taking breaks during the shooting of Salò—his controversial adaptation of the Marquis de Sade’s The 120 Days of Sodom—to organize a series of lighthearted pickup games with the cast and local schoolchildren.
- After the first inning, the game fell into a steady rhythm. Our defense remained strong, and with some timely hitting we lurched out of the middle innings one run ahead. Highlights included an inside-the-park home run by Ben “Chaos Mode” Wizner; some slick fielding by second baseman Louisa “Louisa” Thomas; and an escalating series of really great dugout high fives. We gave up the lead in the penultimate regular frame, and the game remained tied at the end of regulation. Now feels like the right time to introduce this man, who, unaffiliated with either team, inexplicably decided to root for n+1, making his allegiance known through constant heckling. Example: when I came up to bat in the sixth he yelled out the schoolyard classic, “Easy out!” (I popped up to third.) Afterward he came to over to congratulate us, and offered to umpire our next game.
- In the top of the seventh, Chad Harbach, who taught a seminar on the Art of Hitting All Game, smashed a ball to right field that would definitely have been a home run if not for an overhanging tree. Before the start of the game, it had been decided that if this situation arose, the resulting ruling would be a live ball, and, although it was an obvious home run, he and his cohorts displayed their patented Art of Graciousness in accepting the decision. He didn’t score, and the game remained tied.
- This was not the only close call. Twice in the late innings n+1 hit it deep into center, and both times Robyn “Great Defensive Outfielder” Creswell came up with spectacular catches. Creswell, whose presence last season was spotty (on account of his newly born daughter), had been sorely missed, and was this game’s unanimous MVP.
- In the bottom of the tenth we finally broke through, winning the game off the bat of captain and associate editor Stephen “Ham Sandwich” Hiltner.
- Notable debuts: Poet and frequent TPR contributor Rowan Ricardo Phillips, who switch-hit and displayed some nifty glove work; assistant editor Clare Fentress, who played catcher and hit n+1 editor Nikil Saval in the head throwing the ball back to the mound; and TPR’s head of advertising and promotions, Hailey Gates, the most stylish TPR team member since Styron.
- Kudos to: us, for winning; the sun, for shining; and to n+1’s Keith Gessen, for lending me his glove every inning.
Next up: Harper’s (June 27th , 3:30 P.M., Chelsea Park).
Cody Wiewandt is The Paris Review’s softball correspondent.
May 31, 2013 | by Stephen Andrew Hiltner
Team |1|2|3|4|5|6|7 Total Departures |0|0|2|0|2|1|0 5 TPR |0|5|4|2|4|3| 18
Well, folks: we’re off to a good start. Team Paris Review kicked off its season—and its residency at our new home field—with a comfortable win over the Platinum Card crew from Departures. Unlike the clientele of our vanquished foes, there was very little exclusivity in yesterday’s merry band of Parisian home-run hitters, which included the likes of Robyn “Big Daddy” Creswell, Adam “Watch It Fly” Wilson, Ben “Wisdom” Wizner, and Charlie “Buckets” Stein.
Those distracted from the game by the blissful heat of the late-spring afternoon may have noticed the elderly fellow who, having wrested free a Citi Bike from a nearby docking station—and evidently intent on imitating our circling of the bases—began looping around the park, occasionally glancing down at his feet to study the bike’s mechanics. Judging it sound, he exited the park just as we wrapped things up, and headed north on Tenth Avenue. I couldn’t help but be reminded of another gray-haired cyclist, one who’d no doubt approve of both a city full of public bikes and of another season of Paris Review softball.
Next up: Vanity Fair (June 11, 7:00 P.M., Central Park).
July 26, 2012 | by Cody Wiewandt
Team |1|2|3|4|5|6|7 Total TPR |1|0|0|1|3|2|0 7 VF |3|0|1|0|0|1|1 6
Last Tuesday marked the end of this summer’s softball season, and The Paris Review went out in style, coming from behind to take a spirited contest from arch nemesis (one of many, surely) Vanity Fair. It was a contentious affair, bookended by two controversial calls: a play at home plate in the first, and a play at first in the bottom half of the seventh. Due to superior oratory skills (and truth), the former went our way, resulting in a TPR run; due to the notion that a team cannot possibly be right twice in the same game, the latter went to Vanity Fair. (It ultimately only provided a brief respite from the inevitable.) Between the spats were many cheers, a few tears, and a lengthy discussion on the virtues of run-on sentences (decidedly none at all).
Instead of prattling on, I now present a gallery of photos, taken and curated by TPR’s own Alyssa Loh.
Before I go, a quick note to my teammates: Hell of a season. I’ll see you when I see you.
Read More »
July 13, 2012 | by Cody Wiewandt
Team |1|2|3|4|5|6|7 Total TPR |4|0|0|4|0|0|4 12 HT |0|2|4|0|0|0|4 10
What a difference a week makes. In the last installment of these notes I detailed Team TPR’s slow descent into mediocrity, a juicy tale rife with last-second losses and clubhouse turmoil. Today, thankfully, I come bearing news of a different color: the color of victory (whatever that is—green?). In what was generally classified as “a bit of an upset” by the national media (and a delicious bit of revenge for last year’s dust-up), David (TPR) felled the brutish Goliath (High Times), armed with nothing more than the competitive spirit and a handful of ringers, including one of Bard baseball’s best—and the former collegiate roommate of now super famous hoopster Jeremy Lin.