Baseball Primer Newsblog
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Tuesday, October 18, 2011
While Mark DeRosa has 74 career errors…Joe DeRosa looks for some in Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding.
A ballplayer could react to a terrible slump in a number of ways. But all of them should be vastly different to a person reacting to the loss of a supernatural gift. A slump usually begins with the wrong mix of flawed mechanics and dumb luck and spirals into Adam Dunn-level tragedy when the player gets trapped inside his own head. Henry’s situation is closer to Prometheus and his gift of fire than it is to Adam Dunn and his buck-fifty batting average.
Because all of the characters ignore this essential difference, the baseball in the book loses integrity – a distraction that I could not tolerate.
I’m sure Harbach has loftier intentions than examining Henry’s fielding ability, but he wrote a book around a baseball team – and from what I can tell, nobody’s been shy promoting it as a baseball book. At the very least, the context of the baseball season should serve as the binder of the story, but since the author doesn’t get the baseball right, the binder dissolves. What’s left is still good enough to carry your interest for a while, but since the baseball is palpably unreal, it taints the other stuff too.
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