by The Awl
The following are excerpts from every piece in The Classical Magazine’s baseball issue, “The Same Old Game.” You can read “The Same Old Game” a few different ways. The most highly recommended, if you’re an Apple user, is to just get the app: it’s free, and comes with a free issue, then it’s $3.99 for an issue, or $29.99 for a full year of 12 issues. (There are also PDF, Kindle, and .Puig files available DIY style at the same prices. Just get in touch with Pete Beatty at firstname.lastname@example.org to work out a transaction.)
Why are we doing this? Well, The Classical offered us a piece from the issue. And we thought: well that’d be great and all, but, really? Does letting us publish a thing on the web help people discover your magazine? Maaaaybe it does! But what if we just told people a bit about everything that was in it instead? Like so. And here we are.
Eighth Wonder by Ted Walker
The Astrodome, from its conception and construction through its grand opening, represented the pinnacle of architectural achievement, the height of ambition, and the synthesis of civic innovation, national pride, and economic optimism. The Judge, as the conductor of this mad orchestra, was the movement’s leader, and like a Kennedy of the plains, put his uncommon energy and supernatural drive to use motivating those around him to accomplish feats that nobody had previously dared to imagine.
With the spirit of the space program and Houston’s proud new role as the brains of the operation glimmering from behind his horn-rimmed glasses, the Judge emerged from his office one day and announced to his team and to the city that the Houston baseball team would no longer be called the Colt .45s. In their bold new home, defiant of meteorology and built at a scale never seen on Earth before, the team would be called the Astros.
Six Avant-Garde Plays Featuring Corey Kluber by Carson Cistulli
GROUCHO MARX: I’d like to make a motion.
MODERATOR: Go ahead, Groucho Marx.
GROUCHO MARX: I move that his curveball — that Corey Kluber’s curveball — resembles stop-action footage of two unicorns freaking.
MODERATOR: Okay, noted. Late comic actor Groucho Marx moves that Kluber’s curve resembles slow-motion footage —
GROUCHO MARX: Stop-action, Mr. Moderator.
MODERATOR: What’s that?
GROUCHO MARX: Stop-action footage, Mr. Moderator.
Go Leafs Go by Sam Riches
Caulfield, at 27, is one of the few players on the team that still has big-league hopes, and a legitimate chance at realizing them. He went 5–0 last season, devastating the league with a two-seam fastball and changeup. He was drafted by the New York Yankees out of the College of Charlestown in 2008, but a few weeks later he walked away from the game to attend a Christian ministry school, stunning his teammates, coaches, and family. He said his love for the game was gone. While sidelined by Tommy John surgery, he began reading the Bible and regularly attending church. He had found religion in an elbow injury.
The Secret History of Sabermetrics by Jack Moore
Batting average makes enough sense on its surface. The batter’s goal is to get a hit, therefore measuring how often he does so should describe his quality. But this idea collapses once we take a closer look at how run scoring actually occurs. The hitter’s goal is twofold: to reach base himself — whether via a hit, walk, hit by pitch, or anything else — and to move runners, including himself, along the path to home plate. As such, the great comparative value of the home run to the triple, the triple to the double, and the double to the single becomes clear. Calling every hit a hit is as silly as calling every coin a coin.
The Style of Pablo Sandoval; or, The Irrationality of Baseball by Eric Freeman
Pablo Sandoval matters because his stats do not conform to a popular rational explanation. However, it would be wrong to categorize him as an outlier, some unholy aberration that complicates an otherwise coherent world. Because, for all baseball’s reliance on structure, that same organized system supports plenty of irregularities without crumbling. 83-win teams get crowned as the best in baseball, three-time Gold Glove winners also do whatever this and this are, the best player in the sport slaps the ball out a pitcher’s hand in the biggest game of the season, one of the purest hitters ever forgets how to play a cutoff, a team wins the pennant due to a force-out applied amidst terrible controversy and doesn’t capture the World Series again for at least a century, etc. ad infinitum. Unpredictable events occur during every day of the season.
162 by Pete Beatty
Baseball runs on holy cliches. That’s not a knock, or it’s not meant as one. Baseball doesn’t worship its cliches unthinkingly — they are celebrated and subverted in equal measure. We need these cliches. They allow us to only half pay attention, to stare at the sky, to just snatch away an inning when that’s all life permits, to play our own games. Cliches give us a crappy map of the world, just enough to keep us from driving off the road, just enough to surprise and delight us when something uncliched presents itself. If we took the time to deal with everything carefully and cautiously and correctly, nothing would ever go wrong, and nothing interesting would ever happen.
Interim Commissioner for Life by Rob Iracane and Kris Liakos
ROB: Listen, I think it’s a great thing to honor a brave man who overcame violent racism to become the first black big leaguer. My problem isn’t that Selig is honoring him, it’s that he’s not honoring him in the right way. For five years running now every single damn player has worn 42 on Jackie Robinson Day instead of letting just one dude wear it as some kind of proud achievement. Like how Ken Griffey Jr. intended it when he came up with the damn idea! Instead we’ve got every Tom, Dick, and Manny running around in the same uni number, confusing radio guys and fans alike. Honor is like whipped lard: spread it too thin and you barely notice it anymore.
1 is the Loneliest Number by Patrick Dubuque
Among Jose Canseco’s many crimes against humanity and overall good taste, a subtle offense transpired twenty years ago, on May 29, 1993. With the Rangers losing to the Red Sox by 11 runs, the star outfielder asked manager Kevin Kennedy to pitch an inning. The resulting spectacle brought shame upon nearly everyone: Canseco himself, the Rangers, baseball fans in general, and especially the three people he managed to get out. Worse still, Canseco hurt his arm in the debacle and was lost for the remainder of the season, his first with the team.
As Far as I Can Go by Tim Marchman
These were difficult years for Pete Alexander, when he was more falling than fallen, when a three-day drunk could be written off as his simply having “broken training,” and when as a great player on an indifferent team managed by Killefer, his personal catcher, he was able to play by nonexistent rules. There was, as always, success on the field — in 1924 he became the fourth modern pitcher to win his 300th game — but there were also an increasing number of incidents such as the one where he sold Wrigley a huge insurance policy and celebrated by getting into a bar-clearing brawl at Catalina Island, where the team took spring training. (Wrigley canceled the policy.)