A couple of guys after my own heart

May 24, 2013

read the full text...Ben McGrath and Roger Angell were guests on a recent New Yorker Out Loud podcast talking about, what else, baseball. The impetus of the discussion was McGrath’s May 6 profile, “Oddball: Is R.A. Dickey too good to be true?

Towards the end of the podcast, they are asked by host Amy Davidson (whose vocal mannerisms remind me so much of these ladies in the SNL classic. Sorry. We now return to our regularly scheduled entry.), “Is there something about baseball  that lends itself to the written form more than other sports?,” which is, of course, one of my main points in 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die.

Angell: I think so…. There’s no clock, and it progresses by event. It’s like a  story; it moves through chapters, or innings, therefore it’s linear, which other games are not. And you sit there, you feel time going by, and  marked by events and it’s intensely memorable. There’s never something that you don’t see and until the invention of instant replay you would carry  images away of a play because it was so clear. There’s about as many boring ballgames as there are boring novels, but the comparison is inevitable, don’t you think, Ben?

McGrath: I do. I think the amount of down time in baseball lends itself to reflection . There’s a pause between  every action and so it allows us as fans and as readers to begin retelling the story of what’s happening in front of us…

Angell: And writers can take note.

McGrath: … as it’s going. Exactly. I think if you’re watching a hockey game you look down tow rite about something that’s happened in the corner and pretty soon the puck is on the other end of the ice and you didn’t see it.

Angell: It’s the only sport where you can keep score and you can go back and look at the score and you can tell exactly how every single movement of the game can be recaptured on a  piece of paper, which is  very unusual. You can’t do that in other sports. There are plenty of ways of marking up other sports, but it’s not like a scorecard.

Of course, Angell has been writing about baseball for decades (he’s one of those grand old men of the game I’d love to interview, so if anyone cares to make introductions… Just sayin’.)

In an attempt to introduce the e-reader generation to his work, Open Road Media recently released of three of his essay collections: The Summer Game, covering events of the 60’s, Five Seasons, covering the 70s, and Season Ticket, covering the 80s.

Open Media has also republished classic works by David Halberstam (Summer of ’49 and October 1964) and Jimmy Breslin (Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game?).




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