Diamondbacks 1, Rays 0

It’s a linguistic paradox: is a mountain a mountain? A hill a hill? A sport a sport? A chair a chair? “Duh” sounds glib–what is a mountain but mountainous? But “mountain” is a human division, a word to try and pin down our natural world.

Vocabulary, though, grows in import as you grow familiar with it. Not looking out, pointing to an unfamiliar thing, and asking “what’s that?”, you look in and try to fit your world to words you know.

And math isn’t that good in comparison. A formula found, digits turning into a solution, and you look at all that follows in that light. If nobody had a right pinky, would a normal coach start to worry upon watching…what you or I would call 81 throws?

You can look at stats on a day-by-day basis. Claim that a good limit on a particular night is not valid all nights. In fact, you probably should. But to say “no, count your own silly digits, I will stop at an arbitrary point, la la la I don’t know what that guy is saying”, is going too far.

That said, it’s not all so bad. A chair is a human construct too; with our ability–our craving to put words to things, humans can look at old chairs, build stuff, and say “this, too, is a chair; you sit in it also”. Lots of things I look at–a cup, a laptop, a pad for writing down a draft of this post, a toothbrush, this chair–had human construction, and I can rightfully say that I am sitting in a chair. A human with my pull towards vocabulary built it and now all of us call it that. I don’t think a Platonic mountain and a Platonic hill float in a Platonic land, two distinct things that all high points in our world match up to, but humans’ ability to craft things points to “Platonic” artificial things. In a human sport, shouldn’t all worlds sound just as artificial? Arbitrary, in our control?

A “hill” is sort of innocuous. It’ll still stand tall, though not so tall, if you know what a “hill” is or not. But if words control actions, it’s risky. A coach should go to an arm good for short durations for important matchups: losing by a bit, trying to not allow winning runs, or facing tough outs. But with a short word for “holding on to a win by an arbitrary margin”, many a coach will ration arms suboptimally.

Still, inaction for too long is risky too. How long is too long? It’s a function of conditions; round digits stand as shortcuts, but nobody knows cutoffs for all situations. A string of losing blowouts might prompt long hours to stop mop-up guys from working too much.

That said, facing Tampa Bay’s Rays, this might not worry you so much.

And still, words count. Against swirling loads of data–pitch count, walks, only scoring a run of your own (though isn’t that lack of room for tripping up what can push you forward?)–all that stands is a word or two, with punctuation, and all its glorious connotations. If you can’t say a word, but think it anyway, and allow such thoughts to control you, you know how much words count. Slap a tag on a night, and though it’s tiring or wild or a risk, that tag is what stands out.

But if I can only say it through words, any criticism is hypocrisy.

Crown of sonnets

Would you rather see beginnings or ends?
I haven’t given you enough to say.
Unless you know who’s playing, it depends
On many things; the sport, the round, the day.

If you were rooting, you’d watch from the start.
Loyal no matter how the game turns out.
Perhaps you’re busy, and need to depart
Halfway through. But when endings are in doubt

You live with hope. There’s no need to assume
Things won’t end well just because you’re behind.
Wonder what’s going on, fend off the gloom,
Uncertain what you will come home to find.

When there’s something to cheer for, win or lose,
Each moment matters. No news is good news.

Each moment matters. No news is good news
If all you want is for the game to take
As long as possible. You don’t know who’s
Playing. But when web sites show a mistake,

Unable to display the score, it draws
Us in. Though I can’t quite appreciate
The craziness of the scoreline, it awes
Me nonetheless. Even I know it’s great.

A play or two are silly wipeouts. Most
Are strangely simple; unreturned serves, aces,
Or sometimes vollies to another ghost
Sharing the same white clothing and pale faces.

Fast in its way, though saying that feels wrong,
The games quickly wrap up and move along.

The games quickly wrap up and move along,
Especially with four crammed in one day.
Accompanied by the same tuneless song,
The same at every tempo, you could say.

I wondered which to watch that afternoon
And chose neither, of course. They almost got
Done what would have been relatively soon,
Before adjournment. That said, they did not.

There had been games that morning. I saw part
Of one of them, although not very well.
The live video screen would stop and start
So erratically, it was hard to tell

What was occurring. Still, I sat alone,
Trying to keep up with a far time zone.

Trying to keep up with a far time zone
Can be easier than it might appear.
The times that MLB.com has shown
Are rarely mine. I’m relatively near

To my team even when it goes away
Out west. Eleven-thirty’s not too late
(At least it’s not right now) for me to stay
Up and listen to them meeting their fate.

Is this how West Coast fans feel all the time,
Made blatant by the road trips to Seattle?
The surety that there’s always more time
So settle in, ready for a long battle?

“Nite game”, this would be called in our home park.
Tonight, there’s nothing there; the scoreboard’s dark.

Tonight, there’s nothing there; the scoreboard’s dark.
Turned off as if in respect. Numbers don’t
Do justice anymore, as each old mark
Is obliterated. Some watching won’t

Understand much, but elegance, we get.
Polite applause, scores read in monotone,
The darkened board, the white clothing–and yet
The players make their images their own.

A necklace, here and now? And more bizarre
To me, at least; a backwards baseball hat?
Yet Nike swoosh and all, that’s what they are.
A rally might help, if you put it that

Way. So into another night they stay,
Hours pass; the score creeps up as they play.

Hours pass; the score creeps up as they play,
Becoming more urgent. Without a goal
It’ll be over. There’s more than one way
To qualify; it isn’t like the sole

Hope is a stoppage-time goal. That’s the stuff
Of stories for children, far too cliché
For the real world. A draw would be enough
If…Slovenia could tie it up, say…

The timing is the fourth official’s whim.
And at this rate, officials? You can’t trust
Them very far. I wouldn’t count on him
To help you out. This year might be a bust.

Ninety minutes gone. Hope, worry, guess, pray–
They can’t keep going like this. Or can they?

They can’t keep going like this. Or can they?
I don’t know. I saw fragments, heard defeat
A couple nights. But that is not to say
I missed it all. I saw part of a feat

Unsurpassed–yet people could surpass that.
That’s the thing about sports. You never know
What the future will mock as just old hat,
Nor how much longer anything can go.

And I could read about it, after all.
I could see highlights, if I wanted to;
The journeys in distant times of a ball
Hit, pitched, or kicked, until at last you’re through.

And so we ask ourselves as play suspends;
Would you rather see beginnings or ends?

Hitless Wonder

To wish for more wishes, upon a cake,
Seems reasonable, hardly a mistake.
To wish for no more wishes, then, might seem
Ridiculous–but it’s not a pipe dream.

To see the world as parts and not a whole
Is a decent goal. Raindrops, not a cloud,
Mean that many more things can be allowed.
Without reactions to what someone thinks
There’s nothing called “jinx”. Just sit back, spectate
And let the game present you something great.
Announcers mention fragments of the past.
You hope it’ll last, whatever they say.
The rarest feats were ruled out right away;
Less to worry about. The symmetry
Means no one can see what might be in store.
Extra innings, perhaps? How many more?
Every run matters. Bunt if you have to.
Nobody should boo a game that excites
Like this. The present is the present. Nights
Like this should be remembered, win or lose.
Good news and bad news blur with our first hit
But it’s only good when more follow it.
In the end, we wind up with a slim lead
But that’s all we need. Without room to mess
Up, the risk of mediocrity’s less.
Onward. A convenient label is fine
For “zero, through nine”. Stock cliches, like, well,
Cake wishes, or descriptions you can’t tell
About in progress are better than just
An all-in-one “must” with “shoulds” all built in.
But all that they can try for is a win.
(Not “all”, of course. The memories remain,
Thrilling and yet plain.) The win’s not secure.
When you’re not in control, you can’t be sure.
Of what’s ahead. Two outs, and there is one
Cliche still undone. Though still nervous and
Half-hunched-over, a win’s a win, Now, stand.

New theme

Well, as you’ve probably noticed, the blog is now blue! This is the “Andrea” theme.

I switched over a couple times last night but realized there were some things I didn’t like about it, so I changed back (more than once). I’ve been able to solve those problems, however–in part by tweaking the header slightly so the title (I hope) stands out more. If anything looks wrong or unpleasantly weird, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

I also added “tags”–short labels–to posts. Hopefully this makes some of my more cryptic ones clearer! This also lets me put a “tag cloud” on the left so you can see what I’m writing about. I like this feature and was going to do it earlier, but I didn’t like the idea of tagging something in, say, a lipogram category with a name containing the missing letter…but then I remembered that the categories (like “Parodies”) are free from the lipogram rules, so I decided that tags can be, too.

Bigger no-hitter graph

Following on from…two posts ago?…here’s an extended look at the no-hitter graph, back into the 1880s.

This does include the Federal League of the mid-1910s, but not the Union or American Associations of the 1880s-90s. Unfortunately, this means that pitchers such as the immortal Cannonball Titcomb have been left out. Bumpus Jones is in, however, and so is Noodles Hahn.

Fielding has improved rather drastically over the centuries (and the number of balls per walk oscillated rather wildly in the 1880s, which might explain those jumps). Some of the articles about no-hitters are more impressed when neither team made an error. Going back and digging up old articles was incredibly fun; it really shows you how much endurance pitchers had back in the day. The articles’ phrasings were great, too. “IT IS REALLY MEAN For Buffalo to Whip Boston So Every Day”; switch a couple names and nothing’s changed. As one article put it, these pitchers have all “climbed to fame’s cupola”.

Jinx working in mysterious style?

This is for you, you who I do not expect to ever meet, nor whom I’m sure exist. I’m just guessing you’re out there, somewhere. Most likely Detroit. Thinking of how I’d be, in your shoes–following the Tigers, not wondering if the Cubs would get in their competition–it seems like you should exist. Just guessing.

But it’s foolish to guess, this month. With tiny odds coming through time beyond time, how should I know you spoke like I figure you did? Considering Tigers supporters, it’s sensible to guess some followed. Some spoke. Some viewed the end, viewed history turn into something else. Did you shoulder the guilt of destroying it?

It’s sensible to guess you’re out there, but sense is untrustworthy now.

Even now, my feeling on reviewing umpiring decisions isn’t strong. I guess I don’t truly trust televised clips to bring utter precision. It’s one thing to sit in my home, seeing my TV while listening to its voices go “Oh, he seems to be out.” But to expect this technology to provide complete rulings? Someone must still judge the film, which must be from useful perspectives. Think of outfielders running to corners of fields; could someone swivel the lens in time? Someone must rule.  How to choose who?

None of us–supporters, filmers, TV voices, umpires, robots–touch perfection.

Will this be written off with “not quite”s? Grow into something unique, not like other impressive jobs but distinctively well-known? Or is it just the footnote to the odd story of this weird month?

No, it isn’t. Linguistic prohibition is the norm in this blog, so I’ll tell you right now; I will not let myself refer to this by the title of “the footnote”. For it might not be unique. Oh, no other competition is likely to go quite like this soon. But onetime flukes grow ever more common, so nothing’s sure. This might not be the end of this odd sequence of events. Just when you think it’s finished, it could surprise us once more.

You spoke out. The umpire spoke…something besides “out”. Coincidence? Most likely, though it’s difficult for those like us to believe.

So I’ll keep quiet for now, not deeming this the end of spring or the beginning of summer. There’s more pitching to be done.

Oh, P. S.: the text on the right column of the blog is oddly true this spring.