Category Archives: Baseball

Basketball’s Artistic Merit

The Fung Bros.’ video on NBA Moves got me thinking about the artistic nature of the athletic performance of basketball moves and scoring.

Even though the ultimate goal is to win by outscoring one’s opponent, it isn’t enough that the players just get the ball into the hoop as many times as possible.  Methodology necessitates that players try to keep the other team from scoring by getting the ball back or “fouling” them.  In baseball, the pitcher strikes out the batters; in football, the defense keeps the other team from getting another set of downs, sacks the quarterback, or intercepts the ball; in hockey and futbol, and I imagine to a similar extent basketball, each team tries to get the puck/ball to score.  Hence, the back-and-forth quality of these three sports compared to baseball and football, where the former is more stationary and the latter consists of a series of stop-and-go’s.

In addition to the technique and skills required to put the ball in the hoop, though, does a player have to execute these plays with ostensibly intentional rhythmic and complex footwork?  Is the footwork a byproduct of trying to get the ball close enough to the hoop to dunk?  The more I watch a variety of basketball plays, the more I see artistry in the physics of that choreography no matter how (co)incidental.

Basketball game-play impresses me as being more unpredictable than football.  The gridiron is a much larger stage and the fluidity of certain plays contributes to the notion that every outcome is planned.  It seems that basketball invites and involves more improvisation down the court.

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The Last Word

Today was Marguerite’s 37th birthday.  She celebrated it alone at the Friar Rose cafe as she’d done each of the last six years.  Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” was playing over the speakers when she paid for her almond latte and blueberry muffin.  It was fitting, bittersweet to hear her first love’s young adult anthem at that moment.  It was ten years ago to the day, New Year’s Eve, that Marguerite had asked Catalina to marry her at the cafe — Catalina said no.

The law was on their side, their families were supportive, their friends ecstatic, but Catalina had never been one for meeting externally suggested expectations.  If Marguerite had waited one more day, Catalina would have proposed.  This contrary characteristic initially attracted Marguerite to her.  Catalina’s family thought she would go to university and study chemistry; instead, Catalina went to university and majored in comparative religion.

Marguerite spent most of her life surrounded by unwavering rule-followers no matter the irrationality of the rules.  Catalina was a blast of fresh air and water in comparison.  Over time, though, the insistence on going her own way turned into an unwillingness to empathize, to take one for the duo, and just irrational as the followers of old.

Marguerite drank from the mug of latte as she acknowledged fully to herself that Catalina’s refusal was probably for the better.  At that very instant, a customer approached her and asked if he could join her for a few minutes.

“It won’t be long, and I realize this is strange,” the man began. “But, do you see those people over there trying not to look obvious with their cameras and phones?”

Marguerite nodded and realized why this man had asked to sit with her. “You’re Patterson Chen…your fans want to know if it was you in that car the police found in the ravine and you still won’t confirm or deny.”

Patterson nodded.

Marguerite told him he could stay as long as he wished, confessing that she was more of a hockey and college football kind of gal so she wouldn’t be making small talk about America’s national pastime.  Patterson didn’t mind at all, he rather liked sitting quietly with someone who didn’t want anything from him.

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Perturbed, Unnecessary Roughness

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I could be
just like you,
stomp and stare
as you do
when you walk down the street

and see displays of affection
you’d rather not see

I could be
just like you,
respond to those sights
with malice unparalleled

I could take you down
before you have the chance to blink
with unnecessary roughness
befitting a dirty line-backing fiend

I could introduce you
to my trusty bat,
made of such polished,
dense wood

the likes of which
you’d rather not see

I could spit semiotic toxins
in the face of your ego,
forcibly caress your fears
until you cry uncle

But I am not
just like you,
not this you
strutting from shadow to shadow
unable to transcend
unwilling to bend

a morsel of your pride
to allow room
for who I am,
for who you could be
for who would be

crossing finish lines
with the brevity of acceptance
with the assurances for a love
beyond the cage around your heart

I could have been
just like you,
fuming and berserking,
bringing down everyone
to the depths of my detesting

everything that
I’d rather not see

But I woke up,
looked upon the world
heaped at our feet,
a mirror between
the two of us,
eager to reflect
something better

If only you could
just let me be.

— yiqi 13 june 2016 6:02 pm

~!~

The above poem came to me as I was drying my hair and listening to this song by AOA and thinking about what it takes to refuse to let someone who disapproves of you, despises you and your love, dictate how you live…even if it means your time on earth is much shorter than it otherwise could have been.

On the Mind, Brain, and Bob Knight

There’s a book on the Korean War by Bruce Cumings that I bought a few years and still haven’t properly started reading.  It is among the handful of other books (fiction and non-fiction) that I still have not finished reading.

bcKW

 

And yet, what do I keep doing?  Buying more books and reading a few of them back-to-back and then starting/stopping a couple others. After my trip to my neighborhood Barnes & Noble today, looks like The Korean War is going to have to continue waiting for its turn to be read.  I went to the bookstore with the intentions of getting Unbroken (Angelina Jolie, 2014) and The Blind Side (John Lee Hancock, 2009) so I could write about them and potentially re-evaluate my thoughts concerning their presentation and themes.

Upon browsing the science and sports sections, though, I came away with three books:
livres

Mindware: Tools for Smart Thinking by Richard E. Nibsett
— I read his book Geography of Thought many years ago and enjoyed it.  I even emailed him about the concept of amaeru (and he responded!  This was back in the day before social media was an appropriate way of contacting published scholars, writers, artists, athletes, companies, etc).

A Season On the Brink: A Year With Bob Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers by John Feinstein
— John Feinstein possesses such a pithy and humorous narrative voice.  See previous posts about his work.

Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman
— I like reading about cognition; I also like the way this book smells.

Oui.  I’m probably going to read them concurrently; I’m a few pages in already on A Season on the Brink.  Before the inevitable waxing poetic on Mr. Feinstein’s writing, though, I am going to address whether or not the NBA, MLB and possibly NHL have teams whose websites need footer updates.  After clicking through half a dozen NBA teams’ sites, their footers are much more consistent (if not identical) in text and display and reflect the current calendar year…unlike the NFL’s teams every-which-way UI/UX.

Je vais finir, je vais finir.

 

The Lost Tapes from Little League

Maxine didn’t like to gloat or tell jokes or stuff marshmallows into her mouth until she couldn’t talk.  She wasn’t like the rest of us.  She liked to sit by herself during meals and whenever we had to wait for the bus to take us to away games, she sat always behind the bus driver and in such a way that she couldn’t see herself in the rear-view mirror.

I was only on the team for three years and wasn’t around before she joined the team, so I don’t know what it was like, what was different.  I mean, she got her own hotel room and the coach’s wife always stayed with her, but I don’t get what the big deal was about a girl playing little league.  She didn’t want to play softball — she wanted to pitch like the boys.

What I miss most about Maxine was her laughter.  Her favorite movie was Horse Feathers and kept telling me to watch it.  I used to think it was because she wanted to be right about something other than the best way to strike out a batter when the sun is starting to shine in his eyes.  Now, I know it was more than being right.  She wanted to have something to share with someone, something other than baseball she could talk about with someone.  She picked me to be that someone.  I wish I hadn’t waited all these years to get around to watching Horse Feathers.  I would’ve liked it as a thirteen year-old.  And now, I’ll never know what kinds of conversations we could’ve had about the movie or anything else.

I remember that last game like it was last week, even though it happened more than a decade ago.  We’d just lost by one point to a team in Arkansas, you should have seen the coach’s face.  Maxine thought it was her fault.  She could’ve struck out that last kid.  Like she does at the end of every away game, she went onto the bus before the rest of us.  We liked to mess around the vending machines and dare each other to stick our hands up the release door.  We were about to get on the bus when a tractor trailer slammed into it.

Maxine didn’t like to gloat or tell jokes or stuff marshmallows into her mouth until she couldn’t talk.  She wasn’t like the rest of us.  We had to grow older and become tax-payers, general contributing members of society.  She had to die thinking that she could’ve struck out that last kid and helped us win the game.  To this day I don’t know who is the luckier one.

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Nothing specific inspired this post.  The name “Maxine” came to me and the rest slid out; on the subject of Little League, here’s a neat read about eighteen girls who have played Little League Baseball.