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Friday, April 03, 2020

An Activist and a Bookworm, Sean Doolittle Is the Conscience of Baseball

Sean Doolittle’s plan to visit a bookstore on every road trip last season did not originate as any sort of serious plan at all. It started as simply a way to get some books. The Nationals’ reliever, 33, reads voraciously. He reads because he has to.

Doolittle has had the same in-season routine for a few years now—after a game, at home or in his hotel room, he reads for an hour or two before bed. (If he’s at a particularly good point in a book, he’ll carve out more time the next morning before he heads to the park.) It’s a relatively small part of his day. But it’s become crucial to his relationship with baseball and with himself.

As Doolittle worked his way into the majors—an extended process, with a set of injuries that sidelined him for full seasons after he was drafted out of the University of Virginia in 2007—he realized that baseball dictated the conditions of his entire life. It set the tone for everything; to pitch well was to enjoy a night thinking about nothing else; to pitch poorly was to be condemned to the same. He had no outlet outside of baseball because he had neither space nor energy for it. When he spent time on the injured list, everything went dark. “My whole life, my everything—I was consumed by baseball,” he says. “How that was going determined how I was feeling about literally anything.” The game had come to determine not only what he did but who he was.

“It’s something that he’s always been comfortable going into,” Doolittle’s wife, Eireann Dolan, says about watching him handle the pressure of his role as a closer. Before he came to the mound each day, his tendency to wrap his whole self in his job was an asset, the source of that ability to feel comfortable. After he left the park, however, his inability to disconnect was a struggle. “When all of your energy—your work and focus and adrenaline—is condensed into ten minutes at ten o’clock at night, when he’s actually pitching, it’s very hard to come down from… And it’s just very hard then not to let that be your entire identity, as the guy who either saved the day or ruined the day.”

 

QLE Posted: April 03, 2020 at 01:10 AM | 25 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sean doolittle

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   1. Howie Menckel Posted: April 03, 2020 at 01:27 AM (#5936098)
The late and wonderful Armon Gilliam once inquired of his teammates if - upon a visit to Salt Lake City for an NBA road game - they might want to join him in an opportunity to visit the Mormon Tabernacle around lunch time, so that they each could expand their knowledge about a different religion (Armon's dad was a preacher).

the response was.... not eager. (that sounds nicest.)

the "adults in the room" of most clubhouses and locker rooms in pro sports - well, they tend to stick out like sore thumbs.

   2. Walt Davis Posted: April 03, 2020 at 01:52 AM (#5936101)
Did Armon mention the magic underpants?
   3. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: April 03, 2020 at 04:43 AM (#5936114)
Man, I forgot that Armon Gilliam died. Sigh :(
   4. Howie Menckel Posted: April 03, 2020 at 08:34 AM (#5936131)
(a bit early to digress on a good story - but these are not normal times)

...... and Drazen Petrovic and Yinka Dare and Dwayne Schintzius and John Williamson and Bubbles Hawkins and Maurice Lucas and Orlando Woolridge and Ray Williams and Anthony Mason and Jack Haley and Darryl Dawkins and Pearl Washington.

all ex-Nets who never saw age 60. hell, have of them never saw age 50.
   5. PreservedFish Posted: April 03, 2020 at 09:11 AM (#5936138)
Doolittle sounds like a great guy. But it's amazing to me that a guy that reads books is notable.
   6. catomi01 Posted: April 03, 2020 at 09:20 AM (#5936141)
Got to meet Sean and his wife a couple of years ago when an organization I'm part of gave him an award for some charity work he does supporting troops...truly a nice, down to earth guy.
   7. mathesond Posted: April 03, 2020 at 10:20 AM (#5936173)
He was on Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me in December, and the episode was replayed recently.
   8. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili (TeddyF.Ballgame) Posted: April 03, 2020 at 02:24 PM (#5936251)
As a bearded bookstore manager and baseball fan, I say we put Sean Doolittle in the Hall of Fame yesterday if not sooner.
   9. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili (TeddyF.Ballgame) Posted: April 03, 2020 at 02:26 PM (#5936254)
Also, sorry to belatedly learn of the death of Armen Gilliam, and weirded out to learn about his name change.
   10. ajnrules Posted: April 03, 2020 at 04:21 PM (#5936291)
As a graduate of the University of Virginia (I went at the same time as Doolittle and saw him play college ball), I'm always pleased to see UVA alumni do well on the Major League level. I'm hoping Doolittle can win a Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award sometime.
   11. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 03, 2020 at 05:46 PM (#5936316)
Willie Mays Hayes : [looks over Jake's shoulder and see's him reading] Moby Dick? What you reading that for?

Jake Taylor : This happens to be a masterpiece of American Literature.

Willie Mays Hayes : [chuckles] Lynn turn you on to that?

Jake Taylor : Yeah... a long time ago.

Willie Mays Hayes : Well listen, if we ever get out of here, me and the other guys are going to a club later on tonight. You want to come with us?

Jake Taylor : [frustrated] Oh, I can't, I got some reading to do.

Willie Mays Hayes : [rolls his eyes] What man, you got a test or something? Jake, man why don't you just go over there and see her. Maybe she'll let you slide on a couple of these.
   12. Walt Davis Posted: April 03, 2020 at 06:15 PM (#5936329)
What you reading that for?

There's a Martin Amis novel -- I forget the title but about a British author on his first book tour of the US -- and there's a passage on this. That only in the US is the question not "what are you reading?" but "what are you reading for?" (The book was probably from the 90s when there were still people who read.)
   13. PreservedFish Posted: April 03, 2020 at 06:43 PM (#5936337)
(The book was probably from the 90s when there were still people who read.)

I think books are doing just fine, actually, especially when you'd assume they'd be totally dead given our new ability to watch Netflix on a phone on the bus. Independent bookstores have been doing great lately.
   14. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: April 03, 2020 at 09:04 PM (#5936359)
Independent bookstores have been doing great lately.


I assume that one of (many) unfortunate fall-outs of the plague is that there won't be any more independent anythings. You're going to need a big stack of cash to get through several months with no income, and so the independent bookstores and the mom&pop; restaurants and all the rest are probably done-for.
   15. PreservedFish Posted: April 03, 2020 at 09:13 PM (#5936363)
Such places were already inordinately reliant on rich uncles and such. It's not easy to open a restaurant without someone willing to give you hundreds of thousands of dollars with very little expectation of seeing a profit. Undoubtedly, the COVID shutdown will hasten the long and often painful consolidation of shopping options. But some of the little places will pop back up again, at least to some extent.
   16. Howie Menckel Posted: April 03, 2020 at 10:18 PM (#5936370)
You're going to need a big stack of cash to get through several months with no income, and so the independent bookstores and the mom&pop; restaurants and all the rest are probably done-for.

there's one in Bergen County, NJ called Bookends that gets a yearly collection of famous people to sign books in their modest basement.

sure, Hillary or Bill Cosby or Geddy Lee or Bernard King or Jessica Simpson or Laura Prepon or Roger Daltrey or Sean Penn or Gary Busey or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Pete Carroll or Anna Kendrick or Anderson Cooper or Ron Darling or Buzz Aldrin or Billy Crystal or Mike Eruzione and so on are not for everyone - but for the right audience, it's a big thrill to meet them, however briefly.

My mother-in-law from Indiana was delirious about 10 years ago just at the idea of meeting Dr. Phil's wife there at the book signing (apparently she is on the show sometimes and/or he references her a lot). when Dr. Phil himself made a "surprise appearance" - well, it didn't get any better than that.

they put out an appeal for financial support to their whole mailing list yesterday. I would not be shocked if they got an "It's a Wonderful Life" finale response. the town is a key lifeblood of the very wealthy village.

I sent them a full-sized book's amount donation without ordering a book. heck, I was born in that town (in a regional hospital. couldn't afford to live there - then or now. :) )
   17. RJ in TO Posted: April 03, 2020 at 10:21 PM (#5936371)
Doolittle sounds like a great guy. But it's amazing to me that a guy that reads books is notable.
For a long time in baseball, being seen reading anything more complicated than a Playboy was enough to get you the nickname of Professor.
   18. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: April 03, 2020 at 10:57 PM (#5936375)
Pete Rose shouting at Jim Bouton during a game: "Fuck you, Shakespeare!"
   19. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: April 04, 2020 at 12:58 AM (#5936390)
For a long time in baseball, being seen reading anything more complicated than a Playboy was enough to get you the nickname of Professor.


In Sean Doolittle's case, c'mon, the nickname is right there.
   20. DonPedro Posted: April 04, 2020 at 10:51 AM (#5936435)
Ooh. I know this one.... Eliza, right?
   21. Walt Davis Posted: April 04, 2020 at 06:13 PM (#5936551)
I think it's correct that the indie bookstores that made it through the tough times are doing OK now but I doubt there have been many new ones that have opened in the last 10 years or so. But I'd be happy to be proven wrong about that.

I've been making sure that I keep doing takeaway from my favorite spots here -- none of them are particularly good but they're the ones I use most often out of convenience and all but one of them are small, immigrant-owned holes in the wall. The local kebab guy decided to shut (I'm not sure that was the right call ... all he did was takeaway and delivery anyway) and told me it's the first time that location has been closed in 17 years.

I suspect most of the "motels" in Oz are pretty much done for. These seem almost all family-owned, the family usually living on site. Their business and home are both at risk. Eventually somebody will re-open on that site once people start travelling domestically again (reliant mostly on car travel). That will eventually be true for most of the small restaurant sites too -- people still want cheap noodles and kebabs. But my kebab place maybe not -- the others in that strip mall are a Burger King (Hungry Jack's here), Subway, Dominos and a large liquor store; if he can't hold on through this, I suspect a chain will go in there.
   22. gef, talking mongoose & vexatious litigant Posted: April 04, 2020 at 09:37 PM (#5936604)
The local kebab guy decided to shut (I'm not sure that was the right call ... all he did was takeaway and delivery anyway) and told me it's the first time that location has been closed in 17 years.


About 2 weeks ago the Chinese equivalent nearest me closed. At that point, it was the only place where I'd seen anyone (the counter lady, though she also participated in the cooking) wearing a mask.

The Papa John's next to it is still open, of course. On the other side, Subway closed awhile back, well before the pandemic.
   23. Howie Menckel Posted: April 04, 2020 at 09:44 PM (#5936607)
Subway had its own pandemic of sorts.
   24. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili (TeddyF.Ballgame) Posted: April 05, 2020 at 07:43 AM (#5936675)
I think it's correct that the indie bookstores that made it through the tough times are doing OK now but I doubt there have been many new ones that have opened in the last 10 years or so. But I'd be happy to be proven wrong about that.


You're wrong! It's still not a great way to get rich in a hurry, but the number of indie bookstores has risen every year for the past decade. A Harvard business school guy even conducted a big study to figure out why bookstores have been thriving (relatively speaking) while other brick-and-mortar retailers are foundering.
   25. Howie Menckel Posted: April 05, 2020 at 11:06 PM (#5936859)
in just a couple of days, my local bookstore is close to halfway to its GoFundMe goal of $25,000.

they also sent out a note thanking people for the deluge of book purchases, explaining that shipping may be a little delayed - which is, of course, good news in the end.

not surprised to see this.

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