Monday, October 13, 2014

Educational Sports-Casting


With the SF Giants in the play-offs, this fair-weather fan has jumped on the bandwagon. Last night, I listened to my first game on the radio and an exciting game it was. But hard to compete against four home-runs!

I couldn’t help but notice the quality of the sports-casting, the need to keep talking— especially on the radio— when one has absolutely nothing to say. I was discouraged to hear that they can now time the speed of every pitch and grew weary of the 95 m.p.h. fast ball and the 67 mph change-up. The constant patter of the announcers was starting to get to me and it got me wondering what it would be like to have other professions on the sports-casting team.

Naturalist: It’s the top of the 6th and Posey steps up to bat. Whoah, will you look at that! A red-tailed hawk is soaring over third base! You won’t see that in St. Louis. But then again, you won’t see the cardinal in San Francisco. Its territory is mostly east of the Rockies. And so popular that it’s the state bird of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia! Seven states! But strangely, not Missouri, which makes you wonder why the team isn’t called the St. Louis Bluebirds. Oh, by the way, Posey struck out.

Historian: Pablo Sandoval steps up to the plate. Since it’s the day before Columbus Day, I might mention that in Columbus’ 3rd voyage, he landed in Venezuela, Sandoval’s home country. He was so impressed by it that he called it the Land of Grace, a nickname it bears to this day. Of course, Columbus was a brutal imperialist, claiming his right to enslave and kill the native populations. Spain colonized the land in 1522 and in the next few centuries, various native populations— the Caracas, Chacao, Los Teques, Ye-kuana— resisted the notion that someone else should take over their home. But to no avail. As a consolation prize, some got cities named after them. Then came the slaves, Sandoval’s ancestors, and slavery persisted until 1854. The War of Independence began in 1811 and… hold on. Looks like Sandoval hit a home run. Okay, in 1821…

Poet:  Hunter Strickland comes into pitch. One of my favorite pitchers— how to describe him? I’d say it like this:
            His art is eccentricity, his aim
           How not to hit the mark he seems to aim at,

          His passion how to avoid the obvious,
          His technique how to vary the avoidance.

         The others throw to be comprehended. He
        Throws to be a moment misunderstood.

        Yet not too much. Not errant, arrant, wild,
        But every seeming aberration willed.

        Not to, yet still, still to communicate
        Making the batter understand too late. *

 And that's exactly what happened here as Strickland strikes him out!

Imagine sports-casting like this! Every week a different point of view! Anthropologists describing the various rites and rituals of baseball, haircutters commenting on fashion, psychologists describing player relationships. With a ready-made crowd of millions, the intelligence of the nation would soar!

Anyone with me here?

* An actual poem by Robert Francis called Pitcher (p. 187 in the poetry anthology The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart).

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