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Roger Angell Newsbeat

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Angell: Long Wait, Great Win

As happens so often in a long series, the joys and triumphs of the winners and their rooters remain pure, while the rest of us, and not only the Dodger fans, try not to think about several inexorable but excruciating failures and pains. We must put aside, for instance, what today must look like for Yu Darvish, last night’s Dodger starter, who was gone after those two innings, and who had lasted for a bare five outs in his Game One start, while coughing up six hits and four runs. Dodger first baseman Cody Bellinger struck out three times last night and seventeen times in the Series, in the end resembling only an embarrassed high-school swinger up there. He set the record for the most strikeouts in the post-season, twenty-nine. Dodger ace Clayton Kershaw pitched four useful innings in a relief role last night but now must ponder his astounding eight homers surrendered in the post-season. Yasiel Puig and his bat, although close, will undergo some counselling this winter. He by turns licks, gnaws, whispers to, and kisses his partner between pitches, but throws her violently to the dirt when she fails him. They probably love each other, but this is an abusive relationship.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Angell: Bringing the Yankees Home?

Wednesday’s game, at the Stadium, allowed me to continue work on my monograph about Keuchel’s whiskers. Mr. Weirdbeard shows a dense mid-chest curtain of hair depending from spaghetti-strap sideburns that might actually hook over his ears. Further observations offer a different possibility. His long, pale neck is smooth-shaven and stretches up to a high haircut trim close to his cap. The effect, seen from a slight angle astern, suggests a silken Dolce & Gabbana evening bag or, more likely, a black chemise or bit of underwear hanging on the far side of your closet door.

The box score shows that the Yankees struck out thirteen times in Game Five, contributing to their forty-nine strikeouts in the games to date. Shifting to the other league and the other side of the ledger, we come upon the Cubs’ 3–2 win in Game Four, at Wrigley Field, in which all five runs came on solo homers. Amazingly, these were also half of the hits in the game. Totals like this should no longer startle us. Baseball has irremediably altered, accumulating homers and strikeouts in ever-ascending numbers. Aaron Judge’s new rookie record of fifty-two home runs comes along with his record two hundred and eight whiffs. Major-league players hit more home runs this season than ever before, and more of them struck out as well. It’s all about size. At six feet seven and a tautly proportioned two hundred and eighty pounds, Judge is the avatar for this new generation of towering sluggers, while the pitchers, in their leaner and longer fashion, are also stronger than ever before. Launching has replaced hitting, and the batters walk away unflustered when they swing and miss at another hundred-mile-an-hour heater. This altered game is here to stay, and may even suit the distractible, phone-attached modern audience. Almost no one keeps score nowadays, and folks in the seats rise in numbers, shouting for the coming K or wowing for the departing dinger. I’m not a yearner for the past by nature, but maintain a secret fondness for a different baseball moment—a hard single up the right-field side with a man aboard, the baserunner and the relayed white ball now converging on third, and the fractional moment in which we await the call.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Angell: Yanks Get Even

C. C. will become a free agent this year, and it’s not a certainty that the Yankees will come through with an expensive new contract. He’s a different pitcher these days from what he was when he arrived, in 2009, as a high-strikeout star from the Brewers, and now thrives on angles and corners and a commanding elder presence. He went 14–5 in the regular season, but, like others, I most want to hold onto the look of him out there: the tent-like uni top, the billowing pajama pants. His cap sits askew on his bald head, just above his oddly folded ears. Most of all, at six-six and three hundred pounds, he is enormous, but this Monadnock, set in motion, becomes curved and flowing, and the departing and instantly arriving pitch completes the line and the portrait. His eyes gleam with appreciation as well as attention: he is sharing our fun.




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