The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Willie Mays’

Quit Thinking, You’re Hurting the Club

October 25, 2012 | by

In game six of last year’s World Series, with the Texas Rangers one strike away from clinching the franchise’s first championship, Lance Berkman, the St. Louis Cardinals’ aged first baseman whose thick physique and round face had earned him the nickname “Fat Elvis,” lined an inside fastball into shallow right-center, plating the tying run from second base. Even though he had just fulfilled the childhood fantasy of nearly everyone playing and watching the game that night by rescuing his team from World Series defeat, Berkman betrayed little emotion. Instead, he stoically slipped off his batting gloves and leaned in to listen to the instructions of the first-base coach, as if it were yet another humdrum hit in his distinguished career.

Until David Freese lofted a walk-off home run to center in the eleventh inning, Berkman remained in a state of what appeared to be Zen-like empty-headedness, his posture relaxed but attentive, his expressions varying little with each pendulous momentum shift. It was as though he were the only person in Busch Stadium who failed to comprehend the magnitude of the moment. When asked afterward what he was thinking about during his do-or-die at-bat in the tenth inning, Berkman simply replied, “Nothing.” This answer reinforced a central point in David Foster Wallace’s essay “How Tracy Austin Broke My Heart”:

It is not an accident that great athletes are often called ‘naturals,’ because they can, in performance, be totally present: they can proceed on instinct and muscle memory and autonomic will such that agent and action are one … The real, many-veiled answer to the question of just what goes through a great player’s mind as he stands at the center of hostile crowd-noise and lines up to the free-throw that will decide the game might well be: Read More »

6 COMMENTS

A Mark So Fine: Joe Henry and You

May 18, 2012 | by

Photograph by Michael Wilson.

In November of 2001, I picked up Joe Henry’s album Scar and was stunned by the opening track, a slow blues number called “Richard Pryor Addresses a Tearful Nation.” Henry, a white man, sang from the point of view of the black icon, expressing the comedian’s love-hate relationship with himself and his audience. Henry had the audacity and sensitivity to pull it off, with help from a spiraling, dipping, dripping saxophone solo by Ornette Coleman.

Scar was released in May of that year. Henry couldn’t have known how tearful the nation would be that fall. He closed the album with these lines from the title track, sung in a careful, mournful tempo:

The blade of our outrageous fortune,
Like a parade, it cuts a path.
Light shows on our foolish way
And darkness on
Our aftermath.

If I love you, to save myself
And you love me because we are
So fool to think that our parade
Could leave a path
And not a scar.
And I love you with all I am
And you love me with what you are,
As pretty as a twisting vine
A mark so fine
But still a scar.

The album resonated with me throughout that first post–September 11 holiday season, more than Dylan’s “Love and Theft”, which was released on that particular Tuesday, a coincidence that generated new claims of clairvoyance from Dylanologists. Henry’s album cuts deeper. Read More »

8 COMMENTS

Hustle and Flow

November 4, 2010 | by

Dear Will,

It’s often said that a loss hurts more than a victory can heal. As a rule, it might be true, but it didn’t seem so on Monday night. After fifty-six years of waiting, the Giants finally won the World Series, and San Francisco set itself on fire.

Lee pitched a hell of a game. Hats off to him—he is the beau ideal, I’ll give you that. But give me the weird one; give me Tim Lincecum. At rest, slouchy and loose, wearing a grimy, graying cap, he looks like a teenager cupping a spliff in his hand. But then he begins. The torque—the spring—the splits—the snap! His coaches call his motion “flow.” He did not dominate the Rangers so much as confound them. Mighty hitters were reduced to awkward little jerks of the bat. Remarkably, he may not even be the Giants’ best pitcher—Matt Cain threw more than twenty-one scoreless innings in the postseason—but he’s the best to watch.

I nearly missed it all. As it happens, when the game began, I was at Lincoln Center. The tickets had been purchased long ago, back when it looked like the Giants might not even make the playoffs. The Dresden Staatskappelle was playing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4. I think it was nice, but I wasn’t really playing attention. Instead, I was sitting in the back row, pressing refresh on my Blackberry. One scoreless inning, two… Ah! Perfido was next on the program. Ah, Perfido?! I bolted and headed to the nearest bar.

I’m very fond of these Giants. They came upon me by surprise. Then again, not totally. The Giants were my dad’s team growing up. He used to tell me about Willie Mays, who played with power and with passion and who smiled. He had a pigeon-toed gait, bowlegs, long arms, and a barrel chest. A strange specimen. A Giant! It’s been a pleasure watching the World Series with you, Will. Better luck next year!

Louisa

4 COMMENTS