It takes four games to get to know players. There is no evil empire in this World Series, no strutting WWF bad guys like Bonds or A-Rod or Clemens. Maybe that’s why the television ratings are down.
The World Series is sometimes an acquired taste unless one of the teams is familiar. But four games are enough to appreciate players, and to understand why they are in the World Series, and perhaps to even wish your home team – now scattered to the winds, never to convene in quite the same form again – had them.
I really did not know Joe Panik or Salvador Perez before this season. Blame the World Cup last summer, or western time zones, or my time perhaps ill-spent watching the tiny cluster of young talent on the earnest little Mets.
Now I can see why the Giants and the Royals were tied, 2-2, going into Sunday evening’s fifth game, the all-important fifth game. (Seems to me that the broadcasters have had each of the first four games as pivotal, also.)
Panik has been a revelation, three years out of St. John’s University, and possessing the fundamentals like bunting and making contact and throwing to the right base. Harold Reynolds, who has become a very astute TV color man, critiques Panik’s play at his old position, second base – how the kid takes grounders on the grass during practice in anticipation of a defensive shift into short right field.
So many players lack fundamentals these days. Perez, the catcher for the Royals, moves so fluidly, loves to throw, and seems to know his options before the ball goes into play.
Good players on good teams, and now the Series has gone on for a while. A fan can anticipate, or second-guess, the moves by the managers. Bruce Bochy makes sure he plays his Yusmeiro Petit card in the middle innings; Ned Yost stocks up his bullpen for the final three innings, but the game got away earlier on Saturday night.
Four games is time to appreciate the smile of Eric Hosmer at first base, the intense features of Hunter Pence. With that Dickensian name, Pence could be a madcap stagecoach driver pushing his horses to get to London before dark.
It’s become a good Series. Maybe it will go seven. Too bad kids aren't watching the World Series. I blame Major League Baseball for staging games at night for decades. Then again, kids don't read newspapers, either.
More and More, I Talk to the Dead--Margaret Renkl
NASHVILLE — After my mother died so suddenly — laughing at a rerun of “JAG” at 10 p.m., dying of a hemorrhagic stroke by dawn — I dreamed about her night after night. In every dream she was willfully, outrageously alive, unaware of the grief her death had caused. In every dream relief poured through me like a flash flood. Oh, thank God!
Then I would wake into keening grief all over again.
Years earlier, when my father learned he had advanced esophageal cancer, his doctor told him he had perhaps six months to live. He lived far longer than that, though I never thought of it as “living” once I learned how little time he really had. For six months my father was dying, and then he kept dying for two years more. I was still working and raising a family, but running beneath the thin soil of my own life was a river of death. My father’s dying governed my days.
After he died, I wept and kept weeping, but I rarely dreamed about my father the way I would dream about my mother nearly a decade later. Even in the midst of calamitous grief, I understood the difference: My father’s long illness had given me time to work death into the daily patterns of my life. My mother’s sudden death had obliterated any illusion that daily patterns are trustworthy.
Years have passed now, and it’s the ordinariness of grief itself that governs my days. The very air around me thrums with absence. I grieve the beloved high-school teacher I lost the summer after graduation and the beloved college professor who was my friend for more than two decades. I grieve the father I lost nearly 20 years ago and the father-in-law I lost during the pandemic. I grieve the great-grandmother who died my junior year of college and the grandmother who lived until I was deep into my 40s.
Some of those I grieve are people I didn’t even know. How can John Prine be gone? I hear his haunting last song, “I Remember Everything,” and I still can’t quite believe that John Prine is gone.
Jan. 30, 2023